A point of pride for the Rasmuson Foundation board has been our practice of meeting only twice a year and still having continuity in our work. Last week, we had a special meeting, evidence that the challenge before us is immense and immediate.
Job losses are staggering. Grocery shopping now requires a face mask. Our summer tourism season is predicted to be down by 80 percent or more. Worried about an influx of workers from around the world, Bristol Bay leaders are calling for the cancellation of their fishing season. Families and friends can’t gather for funerals, weddings, graduations or much of anything else. We sing happy birthday from the driveway, check in on old friends by email and chat, and adopt new technologies at our jobs — if we have one.
We are working with close partners to take care of our fellow Alaskans. We’ve joined with other funders, the United Way of Anchorage and The Alaska Community Foundation to create a new, comprehensive statewide fund to address the COVID-19 emergency. We call it AK Can Do.
We know Alaskans are generous with each other. This new fund is intended to let Alaskans help their neighbors, no matter if they live next door or down river. Emergency grants will be available for individuals to help with food, rent, utilities and other basics as well as for nonprofit organizations, which have been highly impacted by the pandemic.
If you have the means to help others, you can provide immediate support through the new fund by clicking here. You can choose to focus your impact on families who are hurting, or support nonprofits working on the frontlines to care for the communities they serve. Rasmuson Foundation is covering all administrative costs, so every dollar given helps a person or organization.
If you are an organization or individual in need of emergency help, here is a list of resources curated by our staff. Just added to the list on Wednesday: Artist Relief, a new fund to help artists being managed by a coalition of organizations, including United States Artists. Please share with us information that can benefit Alaskans.
At our board’s special meeting, $2 million was committed to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. This will allow us to go beyond the immediate needs being addressed with the AK Can Do fund. We intend to move forward with care and intention. Our strategy is to target gaps not filled by state and federal responses. Jason Metrokin, one of our board members and president and CEO of Bristol Bay Native Corp., noted that this is a fast-moving, dynamic situation. Needs may look very different in three weeks or three months. We are here now and will be here then.
We are paying attention to critical issues such as childcare, so first responders can continue to work. We are evaluating how we can help ensure food security, so no one goes hungry. We are thinking about the creatives among us, artists who have the power to connect us in good times and bad, who bring beauty and new ways of seeing. We will continue on until we are in the clear.
Help us understand what is happening in your community and where the biggest needs are. Reach out to us at 907-297-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our chairman, Ed Rasmuson, left us with this thought: “Take care of the people next to you and those you love.”