For immediate release
July 14, 2021
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907.545.3555
Anchorage, AK – Two remote community grocery stores, a small farm as a youth employment opportunity and shelter upgrades in Bethel are among 23 projects moving forward with support from Rasmuson Foundation to benefit Alaskans.
After more than a year of focused response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation board of directors approved $9 million for a wide range of projects, from a library on Prince of Wales Island to a health clinic in Atka.
“We were pleased to see projects all over Alaska and especially those that will serve communities well through economic development,” said Ed Rasmuson, Foundation board chairman. “The challenges of 2020 showed us all we need to be more self-sufficient. We at the Foundation can get behind projects with the potential for long-standing, life-changing benefits.”
The board of directors gathered in June to consider a large docket of funding proposals.
In the Southwestern Alaska village of Emmonak, the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association will receive $350,000 to expand its youth employment program through a small farm. In good fishing years, more than 400 adults and 200 youth may be employed at the association’s Kwik’pak Fisheries plant in Emmonak. But in low fish years, like 2020, fewer than 20 youth work at the plant. The farm will create work opportunities for up to 75 youth and will increase local access to fresh produce, which often is scarce.
Other projects related to food security include two community grocery stores. On Little Diomede Island, 135 miles northwest of Nome and just 2.5 miles from Russia, a $250,000 grant will support construction of a new grocery store by the Native Village of Diomede, the local tribe. The old store was demolished in 2020 because of structural issues. Having a local grocery store is critical, especially in low subsistence years. In Southeast Alaska, a $250,000 grant will support construction of a grocery store by Hydaburg Cooperative Association, the local tribe. Residents currently must make a two-hour roundtrip to Klawock to buy food.
Grants also will support housing in Anchorage for young adults preparing to live independently, a shelter in Bethel and a drop-in center in the Mat-Su for youth experiencing homelessness. A project in Ketchikan will address potential hazards from rockfall behind the main building of a nonprofit that serves those with disabilities.
The Foundation board meets twice a year to consider funding requests from around the state. Before the Anchorage business session, board members visited grantees in Fairbanks and Anchorage.
“With awards in Atka, Little Diomede, Arctic Village and Hydaburg, this group of investments truly covers the map of Alaska,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Every community has dreams and needs. Every Alaskan counts.”
About the Foundation
Through grantmaking and initiatives, Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.