For Immediate Release on February 12, 2009
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer 907 334 - 0520

Clarification of recent news coverage

Anchorage - In the past two weeks, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan has met with grantees and partners around Alaska for discussions about the state of the funding community as we know it. She included in her comments some updates about how the current economic climate will effect Rasmuson grantmaking. The Anchorage Daily News reported on this discussion and while their account of the discussion was largely correct, there are a few items we feel deserve additional clarity:

1. The Foundation's 2008 year-end assets were estimated to be about $425 million. However, Kaplan told grantees that $425 million was likely an overstatement because certain assets, such as private equity and real estate, were stated using September 30 valuations—the latest available. Kaplan stated that the Foundation's best guess is that today current assets are closer to $380 million. The average asset size in the calendar year establishes the base minimum five percent grant payout amount required by the Internal Revenue Service. Foundations can pay more than the base five percent but not less without incurring tax penalties. Rasmuson Foundation plans to stay close to the five percent base payout and will re-evaluate its position continuously throughout the year, but is not required to do so by law.  We are choosing to do so to preserve principal assets with a long-term view of growing our grantmaking dollars.

2. In 2008, the Arts Initiative awarded about $1.4 million in grants. We expect this number to be reduced to $860,000 in 2009. We plan to hold harmless direct grants to artists and schools but funds allocated to other arts programs, such as the Art Acquisition Fund, will be subject to some reductions. Artists should be aware that beginning this year, there will be only one annual deadline for Individual Artist Awards: a March 1 postmark. Read more about Individual Artist Awards here.

3. And finally, the Foundation's Tier 2 program, which makes awards over $25,000 to support strategic projects and the expansion or start-up of innovative programs by established organizations, may make no new awards in 2009. However, Rasmuson Foundation realizes the importance of remaining responsive to community needs during this turbulent period and our staff are willing to entertain questions and discussions about projects that absolutely require a Tier 2 grant this year.  When the Foundation Board meets in June, decisions about any additional Tier 2 grants in 2009 will be made, based on current market conditions and the size of commitments payable for grants already awarded.

Rasmuson Foundation is committed to communicating directly with our grantees and partners about how the changes here might impact them. Please check this website for future updates, subscribe to the Foundation blog, or join us on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter to get regular updates.

About the Foundation

The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband "E.A." Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.