The Alaska Community Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation have announced the extension of a collaborative initiative designed to grow philanthropy in communities across Alaska.
The Community Asset Building Initiative was launched by both ACF and Rasmuson Foundation in 2007 and led to the establishment of five funds serving the Chilkat Valley, Talkeetna, Petersburg, Seward and the Kenai Peninsula. With this announcement, ACF officially begins its process to identify three to four more Alaska communities interested in this approach to local philanthropy.
These community funds are officially referred to as “affiliates” of ACF. Affiliate communities benefit from The Alaska Community Foundation’s oversight of fund investments and expertise in community-based philanthropy while retaining local control of fundraising, goal setting and grant recommendations.
Overseen by local advisory committees, the existing five affiliates have grown from inception to permanently endowed funds with more than $3.7 million in assets as of September 2011. ACF affiliates use their grant making capacity to fund projects important to the community. In Talkeetna, for example, the Jessica Stevens Community Foundation Fund awards grants to local projects like Talkeetna Build A Plane, which purchases inoperable small aircraft for local high school students to rebuild. The project helps students gain useful mechanical skills while connecting them to the culture of their aviation-centric town.
“We are very excited to be taking the next step with this initiative and to have the opportunity to see it work for more Alaska communities,” said Candace Winkler, president and CEO of The Alaska Community Foundation.
Community funds also provide a vehicle for residents to support the growth and development of their communities through bequests and other giving. In Seward, for example, a local man named Tony Rollo left $2 million to the Seward Community Foundation Fund in his will when he passed away in late 2010. “Without the presence of the Seward affiliate, that gift probably wouldn’t have happened,” Winkler said.
Rasmuson Foundation is contributing $2 million in support of the expansion over the next three years. “Community philanthropy is about building financial assets and more,” said Diane Kaplan, president of Rasmuson Foundation. “Developing and managing a community fund builds community leadership and connects neighbors as they identify local priorities and solutions. Our partnership with ACF is an effective, cost-efficient model for meaningful community-based philanthropy.”
ACF and Rasmuson Foundation are beginning the work of reaching out to local leaders across Alaska to identify communities interested in establishing an affiliate fund. Visits to candidate communities will take place early in 2012, with the formal application process following later in the spring.