We thought you might be interested in recent happenings involving the work of Rasmuson Foundation, nonprofits and other grantees in Alaska. Let us know what you think and if you would like to see more like this.
— Diane Kaplan, president and CEO, Rasmuson Foundation
We asked for it. Now we’ve got it!
For 20 years, we’ve worked with other foundations and members of Congress to simplify the two-tiered tax structure on private foundations into a flat tax. We are pleased to report success! Congress has agreed to set the excise tax at 1.39%. This came together right before the end of the year. Thanks to U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young. They all have been advocates for the change. The new flat rate will bring in the same amount to the U. S. Treasury as the complicated two-tier system.
Listening over lunch
The beginning of 2020 was marked by a roundtable discussion with African American community leaders. Our goal was to learn about pressing issues and needs and how Rasmuson Foundation can help. Twenty-one community members gathered in our boardroom to discuss concerns, including the challenges faced by young people and solutions that could set them up for success. Guests included state Sen. David Wilson; Kimberly Waller, founder & CEO of Women’s Power League of Alaska; Alaska State Troopers Capt. Anthony April, and Sheneé Williams, executive director of Shiloh Community Housing Inc. Vaughnetta Barton, the Foundation’s external affairs program officer, coordinated the gathering.
A theme of systemic inequities emerged. Issues raised included the lack of mentorship for young African Americans, a lack of accessibility to information and programs, disconnection from other African American-led groups and inequity in education, health care and politics. Shiloh’s Williams shared a story of when she discovered our state’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth Program. Even though the program has been in place for 10 years, for most of that time she had no knowledge of it. Just last year, Williams was able to share information about the program to young African Americans who are experiencing unemployment and homelessness. Five signed up. This disconnection negatively impacts the African American community and impedes efforts to build a path for success. When asked how Rasmuson Foundation could be a partner, most of our guests said that being an advocate and being a bridge to create connections would have the most positive and sustainable impact.
Counting every Alaskan
We are part of multiple efforts to make sure all Alaskans are counted in the U.S. census. The nationwide count started Jan. 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska. The census has begun in rural Alaska since the U.S. bought the territory in 1867. Frozen ground allows for easier travel, and residents aren’t yet scattered to fishing and hunting camps. The Alaska effort draws on volunteer committees, 1,000 temporary census workers, and an intensive media campaign to get the message out. Program Officer Tanya Dumas is part of the Anchorage Complete Count Commission. We are supporting the statewide effort with a $150,000 grant awarded in June 2019 to Cook Inlet Housing Authority.
Calling AK artists: It’s Individual Artist Awards time
Applications are open until March 2 for our Project Awards and Fellowships, and a panel just met to recommend our 2020 Distinguished Artist, all part of the Individual Artist Awards. This year, program officers Sharity Sommer and Enzina Marrari are leading workshops in Anchorage, Palmer, Dillingham, Nome and Utqiaġvik, as well as online, to help artists prepare applications for these highly competitive awards. Our communications team worked with the program team to create short instructional videos that also will help artists apply. The videos will be posted soon. We also prepared posters to mail across the state highlighting this opportunity for Alaska artists. Learn more and apply for an award by going to rasmuson.org/iaa.