How artists used their grants

Rasmuson Foundation

Beginning January 1, artists can apply for a 2015 Individual Artist Award. If the 2013 crop of recipients is a fair sample, the grants are used for myriad purposes from equipment to computers, to modeling fees to studio space, to classes and training.

But most of all, grant recipients say the grants “bought” them time to pursue their creativity. Below is just a smattering of how 2013 recipients used their awards, and a photo gallery reminder of their work.

Composer Etsuko Kimura Pederson produced “Modern Music for Two and Three Pianos.” Pederson is donating some of the CD proceeds to earthquake/tsunami relief in Japan.

Filmmaker Deborah Schildt completed “Man of Bering,” the second in a three-part series “Bering – Balance and Resistance,” about the residents of Little Diomede Island. The film delves into the fundamental aspects of residents’ lives; their sense of place and belonging to that place. It shows the contrasts between ancestral traditions, the modern world and their struggle for survival. “Man of Bering” won the “Casete” Award at the Baja Film Festival November 2013 and is being screened at film festivals around the world.

Michele Miller says: December 17th, 2014 at 10:52 am
Inspirational. Thank you for posting, and especially thank you for all you do for our talented Alaskan artists, Rasmuson Foundation. All you do for the arts. READ MORE
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Good Tuesday

Cassandra Stalzer, Communications Director

Today was Giving Tuesday, a two-year-old global movement to infuse philanthropy smack into one of the busiest parts of the holiday season.

It’s also a very busy time here at the Foundation – the board meeting has resulted in a pile of paperwork to push and contracts to write; one of our biggest grantmaking programs (as measured by number of applicants) is preparing for its annual opening; and staff are trying to finish up projects by year’s end while finding time to take those remaining vacation days before they are wiped off the books.

But yet, this morning, we quickly hatched a plan to participate in Giving Tuesday and show our support for the organizations that are meaningful to each of us. We didn’t keep a tally of how much we raised, but we did slap a few high-fives with each other and share our UNselfies around the office before getting back to the daily routine. And it was a good Tuesday.

Verna Gibson says: December 3rd, 2014 at 1:13 pm
Rasmuson Foundation, you are a blessing to our community. Keep making a difference READ MORE
Sierra Jimenez says: December 3rd, 2014 at 10:17 am
This was such a great idea! Thank you Rasmuson Foundation and awesome employees. READ MORE
Linda Swarner says: December 3rd, 2014 at 7:54 am
Thank you for all you do for Alaskan nonprofit organization!!! You are awesome Rasmuson Foundation!!! READ MORE
Jillian Lush says: December 2nd, 2014 at 8:48 pm

President’s Report: November 2014

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

The fall months are filled with activity for Alaskans and it’s no less true for Rasmuson board members and staff. The following is a sampling of recent activities and grantee news.

Delores Churchill (center) flanked by Ed and Cathy Rasmuson, Aaron Schutt and me at our annual reception during AFN.

Delores Churchill (center) flanked by Ed and Cathy Rasmuson, Aaron Schutt and me at our annual reception during AFN.

Board members Ed and Cathy Rasmuson, Aaron Schutt, Anthony Mallott and staff attended the Foundation’s annual reception, Oct. 24, during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. The event featured special guests Delores Churchill, master basket weaver and IAA Distinguished Artist (2006), and ArtChange Inc. executive director Ellen Frankenstein. We presented a 90-second sneak peek preview of the new 30-minute documentary, “Tracing Roots: Delores Churchill and the Hat of the Long Ago Person Found” ($25,000 Tier 1, April ’13; documentary film production) by Frankenstein. The event attracted dozens of Alaska Native leaders, former IAA recipients, elected officials, and past Foundation staff.

Natasha and Rudy von Imhoff attend opening night, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

Natasha and Rudy von Imhof attend opening night, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

Board member Natasha and Rudy von Imhof, and External Affairs Manager Jordan Marshall attended the Sept. 27 opening night of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. The event marked the unveiling of the new “acoustic shell” at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts ($450,000 Tier 2, Dec. ’12). Jordan described the aural upgrade as akin to the difference between Coach and First Class.

Alaska Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell (second from left), Deputy Commissioner Jon Bittner and Bill Popp, AEDC CEO. AEDC and Bittner also received IEDC honors for their work.

Alaska Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell (second from left), Deputy Commissioner Jon Bittner and Bill Popp, AEDC CEO. AEDC and Bittner also received IEDC honors for their work.

I received the Institutional Leadership Award at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) annual conference, Oct. 21, in Fort Worth, Texas. The IEDC noted that Rasmuson Foundation has invested millions in Anchorage’s libraries, universities and social service agencies; supports quality parks and recreational opportunities for city residents; encourages working artists; and encourages innovation for cultural organizations through creative placemaking activities. The Foundation is a collaborator in Housing Anchorage, which works to ensure the city features a variety of affordable housing to attract a dynamic workforce.

Board member Linda Leary, Vice President/COO Ian Dutton, Program Officer Chris Perez and I attended a reception Oct. 20 celebrating the launch of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) “Never Alone” video game ($1 million PRI, June ’13) at the new Hard Rock Café in downtown Anchorage. “Never Alone” was designed to preserve and promote Alaska Native culture and values, engage Alaska Native youth to keep them interested in school, and help develop industry and academic partnerships for CITC. The game, which went on sale Nov. 18, features Nuna, her mystical fox companion, and a story passed down through multiple generations in the Alaska Native Iñupiat culture.

Screen installation and totem raising at the Gajaa Hit building, Juneau.

Screen installation and totem raising at the Gajaa Hit building, Juneau.

Anthony Mallott attended the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority (THRHA) screen installation and totem raising, Sept. 29, at the Gajaa Hit building in downtown Juneau ($25,000 Tier 1, April ’14). The 26-ft totem poles and traditional house screen were carved to honor the Tlingit Auk Kwáan clans and members of the Eagle and Raven clans who are long-term residents of Indian Village. They replaced old totems and a screen that have been in the village for many years. The project was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, the Juneau Community Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation. Pacific Northwest master carvers Joe Young and TJ Young were the lead carvers and IAA Distinguished Artist (’09) Nathan Jackson contributed to the design.

Leadership panel at the Alaska Women's Summit.

Leadership panel at the Alaska Women’s Summit.

I moderated a leadership panel Oct. 17, during the second annual Alaska Women’s Summit. The panel featured U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski; State Senator Cathy Giessel; Anchorage Assembly Member Elvi Gray-Jackson; Kristina Woolston; and Fran Ulmer, U.S. State Department Special Advisor on Arctic Science and Policy and Chair of the U.S. Arctic Commission.

Sitka residents gather at the newly renovated Sitka Sound Science Center.

Sitka residents gather at the newly renovated Sitka Sound Science Center.

I joined Sitka Sound Science Center Executive Director Lisa Busch and hundreds of Sitka residents who turned out Oct. 18 to get a look at the newly renovated SSSC building ($491,000 Tier 2, June ’13, facility renovation). The Sage Memorial Building was originally built in 1929 as an industrial arts facility to train students in occupations such as boat making and shoe repair. It transitioned into the Sheldon Jackson College science center through 2007. Foundation funds were used to replace all windows, repair the exterior concrete, repaint the building and replace the roof. The science center also received a surprise $10,000 discretionary gift to purchase marine-inspired artwork for the interior. The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the completion of phase one of the renovation. The building’s envelope is part of a larger, long-term facility master plan drawn up with the help of the Pre-Development Program. Funding for the project came from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust; Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC), the Juneau hatchery; the State of Alaska; the Macintosh Foundation; and the family of Sheldon Jackson science professor Molly Ahlgren, for whom the aquarium is named.

Paying tribute at Jewel Jones' retirement party (from left), me, Carol Gore and Bryan Butcher.

Paying tribute at Jewel Jones’ retirement party (from left), me, Carol Gore and Bryan Butcher.

Jordan and I attended the Oct. 24 retirement party for Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT) CEO Jewel Jones. ACLT is the lead agency revitalizing Mountain View. The party was attended by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich; Alaska State Sen. Johnny Ellis; State Rep. Geran Tarr; Bryan Butcher, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation CEO; Carol Gore, Cook Inlet Housing Authority CEO; and many other neighborhood and nonprofit luminaries. During the party, Carol, Bryan and I announced that the community center at Ridgeline Terrace ($350,000 Tier 2, Nov. 13) will be named after Jewel. Ridgeline Terrace is a 70-unit workforce housing complex under construction on Mountain View Drive. Kirk Rose, incoming ACLT executive director emceed the event.

On Oct. 14, the Anchorage Museum announced its “All Alaska Juried Art Exhibition XXXV” awards; among the winners are 2014 IAA Fellowship Award winners Amy Meissner and Michael Walsh (both 2014) and Kate Boyan (2011).

Sector news

Robin Dublin

Robin Dublin

The Alaska Botanical Garden Board of Directors has named Robin Dublin as its new executive director.

Former Foundation staff interns Penny Gage and Emily Bass have been hired at The Alaska Community Foundation as program officers. The Alaska Community Foundation has hired AFP Alaska Chapter President Beth Rose CFRE, MPA as its Vice President of Philanthropy and External Relations.

Beth Rose

Beth Rose

The September 2014 edition of Alaska Business Monthly reported in a “Regional Corporation Review” that Alaska Native regional corporations made significant philanthropic contributions. A selection of highlights include:

  • The Aleut Foundation awarded 217 scholarships totaling $553,250 and offered community development training programs.
  • Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Paannnaq Initiative completed a number of projects in 2013, including construction of a new outdoor basketball court in Anaktuvuk Pass and renovation of a playground in Point Hope. ASRC also hosts Iñupiaq Days with various North Slope organizations to promote education and healthy living, and deliver messages against alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Calista Corporation hired a record 19 interns for 10-week internships with Calista and its subsidiaries.
  • Chugach Alaska Corporation contributed $2 million to an endowment for the Chugach Heritage Foundation. It was the corporation’s first ever endowment gift and was inspired by the 2011 Rasmuson Foundation holiday card featuring Tony Rollo’s bequest of $2 million to the Seward Community Foundation. Chugach also paid out $750,000 in scholarships and $280,000 for intern and apprenticeship programs.
  • Doyon, Limited contributed $2.3 million to charities, including $1.6 million to the nonprofit Doyon Foundation.
  • Koniag, Inc.’s improved financial results in 2014 have allowed it to make its largest contribution to the Koniag Education Foundation, $359,000, since 2001.
  • NANA Regional Corporation provided $1.1 million to fund economic development programs in the villages, as well as additional money for energy projects. Nana contributed $1.5 million to the nonprofit Aqqaluk Trust.
  • Sealaska has contributed $12 million to fund scholarships and more than $16 million toward Sealaska Heritage Institute operations since 1980.

Partner news

Cassandra Stalzer and Kyle Hopkins

Cassandra Stalzer and Kyle Hopkins

Communications Director Cassandra Stalzer and reporter Kyle Hopkins presented State of Intoxication at the Communications Network conference in Philadelphia in October. Interviewed after the conference, Stanford Social Innovation Review managing editor Eric Nee said, “I come from a journalism background, so one session that I found interesting was on ‘Change Journalism,’ on how some philanthropies are partnering with or funding media organizations… The Rasmuson Foundation partnered with the Anchorage Daily News to fund journalists to cover alcoholism issues in Alaska. They put no boundaries on the journalists they funded, and, interestingly, one of the first articles was skeptical of the benefits of a ballot proposition to raise taxes on alcohol. This raised a fuss about whether the funding was a good idea – but the Foundation rode it out, to its credit. I think they realized that funding a journalist is not ‘PR,’ and you have to accept that they may not cover things exactly as you’d like.”

Staff news

Program Officer Aleesha Towns-Bain joined Alaska Children’s Trust advocates on Sept. 23 to wave “Step Up for Kids” signs during the morning commute. Step Up for Kids is an awareness day that brings people together to show support for investments in children and families. Participants included child advocates, politicians, parents and kids. The event helped raise awareness about the issues Alaska’s children face every day, including access to early care and learning and after-school programs, poverty, child abuse and neglect and health care.

Staff at the Foundation are encouraged to play an active role in the community. Here is a snapshot of some of their current volunteer service:

  • Barbara Bach, director of grant management and operations, serves as treasurer and board member of the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, and member of Alaska Pacific University Business Department Advisory Board and Grant Managers Network.
  • Jeff Baird, senior program associate, serves as board president of thread (Alaska’s Child Care Resource & Referral provider) and as a member of its Finance and Board Development committees; he is also a regular blood donor.
  • Ian Dutton represents Rasmuson Foundation on the Foraker Operations Board; is chair of UAA’s Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Studies Advisory Board; a member of Anchorage Rotary and chair of its World Service Committee; treasurer of the Anchorage Sister Cities Commission; board member of Alaska Center for Blind and Visually Impaired; volunteer gardener and builder for Habitat for Humanity; volunteer trail builder for Eagle River Nature Reserve; and volunteer responder for the International Wildlife Research Oiled Marine Wildlife Network.
  • Carmen Goodwin, grants accounting associate, volunteers at Clare House.
  • Marian Hunter, grants accounting associate, volunteers at Providence Hospital with her dog Murray through the Pet Assisted Wellness (PAWS) program and at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature.
  • Jordan Marshall serves on the public policy committees of Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Northwest, The Foraker Group, and United Way of Anchorage; he chairs the Municipal Anchorage Arts Advisory Commission; and is a United Way of Anchorage board member and chair of its Income Committee.
  • Chris Perez serves on the board of Mission Investors Exchange and its National Steering Committee, and chairs its Knowledge Sharing and Program Committee; he is a board member of Anchorage Cooperative Preschool and chairs its Budget Committee; he also represents Rasmuson Foundation on the Housing Anchorage leadership team.
  • Sammy Pokryfki, vice president of programs, serves on the board of Philanthropy Northwest; the UAA Master of Social Work board; and chairs The Foraker Group’s Pre-Development Oversight Board.
  • Jayson Smart, program officer, serves on the board of the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, the Anchorage Concert Association and the Alliance for Artists Communities.
  • Cassandra Stalzer serves as co-chair of the Anchorage Schools Foundation and is a member of the Anchorage School District’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
  • Aleesha Towns-Bain serves on the board of Native Americans in Philanthropy and the Imagination Library.
  • Kelly Wagner, administrative assistant, volunteers monthly at Bean’s Café.

Bethel pool shows perseverance pays

Jeff Baird, Senior Program Associate

Elmer Rasmuson lived a lifetime of achievement.

He grew the National Bank of Alaska into the largest in the state, served as Mayor of Anchorage, and chaired the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the University of Alaska Board of Regents.

But there was one achievement that eluded Elmer his entire life. He dreamed of being an Eagle Scout. But he couldn’t swim. And Boy Scouts required that candidates for its highest rank be proficient swimmers. Growing up in Yakutat and Skagway, he had no place to learn.

Last Saturday Rasmuson Foundation experienced something very special when we were invited to participate in the grand opening of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Regional Aquatic Health and Safety Center in Bethel (Tier 2 award of $740,549 for furniture, fixtures, equipment and art). In front of a crowd of a couple hundred people, Board members Natasha von Imhof (Elmer’s granddaughter), Linda Leary and President Diane Kaplan joined other state and local leaders in jumping into the deep end, officially opening the pool up to the community.

The $23 million facility was decades in the making and a tribute to the hard work, spirit and determination of leaders like Bev Hoffman who long ago took their own plunge in committing to shepherd the project to fruition. As a result of all the meetings, phone calls, letters, two sales tax increases and countless cookie drives, the people of the Y-K have a beautiful place to learn to swim; to exercise; to recreate and come together as a community.

So regardless of whether the goal is to become a better swimmer in a region that has lost so many to drownings, or to become an Eagle Scout, the people of the Y-K will know that despite the daunting odds, they persevered and came together to build something great. And that is inspiration to us all. Congratulations Y-K, and thanks for letting us be part of the celebration.

President’s Report for October 2014

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

Rasmuson staff frequently get out and about to visit grant recipients, see project outcomes and conduct site visits. The following is a sampling of our activities in September, and grantee news.

On Sept. 11, Vice President of Programs Sammye Pokryfki and Program Associate Sharity Sommer attended the Metlakatla Indian Community longhouse restoration grand opening ($159,214 Tier 2, Dec. ’12; $19,880 Tier 1 furnishings, Aug. ’14). The pair also visited the Metlakatla library, town hall, Head Start facility, senior center, and wellness center.metlakatla

On Sept. 11, Haines Assisted Living Center held an open house in the new upper floor of its Soboleff/McRae Veterans Village Wellness Center ($499,900 Tier 2, ground floor construction). A grand opening to celebrate the full renovation is scheduled for early 2015.

On Sept. 12, Juneau-based Perseverance Theatre launched its 2014-2015 Anchorage season with a donor appreciation night champagne toast at Sevigny Studio in downtown Anchorage. The group then proceeded to the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts Sydney Laurence Theater for the opening night of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and a discussion with director Carolyn Howarth.


Who loves AEDC

Cassandra Stalzer, Communications Director

iloveanchorageWe are not surprised.

After all, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) has been energetic and creative in its approach to economic community development.

Others have also noticed.

President’s Report: September 2014

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO
photo 1

Staffs Jeff Baird and Claudia Maria-Mateo, with Stephanie Winters, report for duty as volunteer ushers for kids excited to attend Anchorage’s air show last summer.

Rasmuson board members and staff travel frequently throughout Alaska to visit grant recipients, see project outcomes and conduct site visits. The following is a sampling of our activities earlier this summer.

On July 10, Board member Adam Gibbons attended Trailside Discovery Camp’s “birthday” celebration ($15,000 Tier 1, June ’13 – purchase kayaks) and spoke about the value of getting kids outdoors.

On July 26, staff Jeff Baird and Claudia Maria-Mateo helped usher youth from Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood onto buses headed to the Arctic Thunder air show on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER). The bus transportation was sponsored in partnership with The Ted Stevens Foundation so that kids who otherwise might not be able to attend could enjoy the air show.

Board member Natasha von Imhof spoke Aug. 27 at the Providence Alaska Foundation unveiling of the new RT 600 Stepper Ergometer System physical therapy rehab equipment ($25,000 Tier 1, May ’14). Providence submitted the grant request for the cutting edge therapeutic device on behalf of stroke patients and individuals with spinal injuries. The Stepper helps patients receive appropriate care without leaving Alaska.

World-class health care innovation in AK

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

This column originally appeared in the Sept. 24, 2014 edition of the Alaska Dispatch News

Senior leaders from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were among many visitors  to Southcentral Foundation this year to see the Nuka System. They are Dana Hovig, global development director, Allan Golston, U.S. program president, and Chris Elias, global development president.

Senior leaders from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were among many visitors to Southcentral Foundation this year to see the Nuka System. They are Dana Hovig, global development director, Allan Golston, U.S. program president, and Chris Elias, global development president.

In the areas of health and wellbeing, Alaska is frequently last in many indicators that are not a source of pride for our state. But in the U-Med district of Anchorage, a revolution is taking place that holds the promise to make Alaska first in innovating health care. It is called Nuka.

In many ways, it makes sense that Alaska is ground zero for health care innovation. When it comes to health care costs, we are the top of the top. Alaska spends the most in a country with the highest health care costs in the world. Yet the performance of our health care system does not match its cost. Alaska is one of the best states to be born in, but our babies are less likely to survive and grow into healthy adults than in any other state.

Timing is everything

Jeff Baird, Senior Program Associate

To quote the words of the venerable Willie Nelson, “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

Timing, my friends, is everything, and this is especially true when it comes to applying for grants. Submit a request too early, and your application might not be well positioned for success. Apply too late, and there might not be enough time to get it processed before funds are needed.

Now, if that sounds ominous, don’t be alarmed. Rasmuson Foundation staff is here to help you navigate the deadline process. So, give us a call, and we’ll discuss your project. In the meantime, here are the deadlines for some of the Foundation’s core programs.

Tier 1 grants (up to $25,000): There is no application deadline! You can apply any time, and complete applications will be processed within 90 days.

Tier 2 grants (any request above $25,000): Tier 2 Letters of Inquiry are accepted year-round. Tier 2 grants are awarded during the biannual board meetings, which generally take place in June and November each year. You should allow at least six to nine months for the Tier 2 review process and always contact a program officer prior to submitting a letter of inquiry, to get the best advice on timing.

Sabbatical: The Foundation awards one cycle of sabbaticals per year. The application is available on our website year-round and is due October 1.

Individual Artist: The Foundation awards one round of Individual Artist grants per year. The application is available on our website January 1, and is due March 1.

Program-related Investments: Applicants interested in pursuing a PRI should contact Chris Perez to determine if this program matches the proposed project. PRIs are also awarded during the biannual board meetings, and follow the same schedule as Tier 2 requests.


Philanthropy in Alaska: Who gives

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO

This post was written by Rasmuson Foundation President, Diane Kaplan together with Dennis McMillian, president/CEO of The Foraker Group. It originally appeared on the Opinion page in the August 15 edition of Alaska Dispatch News. That story can be found here.

We don’t usually talk much about charitable giving during the summer. It’s partly timing.  We’re in the quiet period between Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) applications. We’re months from the year-end flurry of fundraising activity. And Alaskans are busy enjoying all that our wonderful summers have to offer.

Even so, the most recent Foraker Nonprofit Economic Impact Study is worth some attention. In it, The Foraker Group has determined that Alaska nonprofits get a much bigger share of their unrestricted contributions – 15 percent – from corporations than nonprofits nationally.


LaRue Barnes says: September 17th, 2014 at 7:33 am
Thank you for this report. Our very large state with its small groups of populations that have real wilderness separating them, will keep business and program delivery costs above the national norm. We need both healthy corporate and private contributions. It is particularly tricky for nonprofits. One family's move can shift budgets and service plans dramatically.It is good to see where we might fit in the big picture. The time to flourish is now,we may not always have the various investors and granting programs available across the state. READ MORE
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