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Philanthropy allows communities to invest in themselves

  • Author: Nina Kemppel
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 16, 2015

In Dillingham, a single nonprofit provides help for domestic violence and sexual assault victims from 33 villages and tribes across the Bristol Bay region. By September, Safe and Fear-Free Environment (SAFE), had already served 607 women, men and children, and was in need of financial support. The Alaska Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to SAFE so they could provide meals for shelter clients and assist clients outside of the shelter in covering food and other essentials.

In Anchorage, the Mabel T. Caverly Senior Center provides programs for seniors, including assistance for low-income residents who face unanticipated emergency expenses. With an increasing number of requests, the senior center began running out of funds this past summer. The Alaska Community Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to enable the senior center to continue this program during the harsher winter months.

These organizations were two of the recipients of $164,000 in grants made by The Alaska Community Foundation to assist 13 organizations who are meeting basic needs in 10 communities across Alaska. At a time of budget cuts and an uncertain economy, when nonprofits are the first to experience financial pressures, The Alaska Community Foundation is granting more money to those who need it most. We are living out the words of our vision – ensuring that Alaskans have the resources to thrive.

These stories are a sample of the more than $49 million in grants that The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) has awarded to impact lives and strengthen communities in Alaska since we were first created 20 years ago.

From Nov. 12 to 18, we celebrate Community Foundation Week and our chance to share these stories and reflect on the power of philanthropy. The Alaska Community Foundation is one of approximately 750 community foundations nationwide that bring donors and residents together. We are a public nonprofit organization that promotes effective, sustainable, local philanthropy. Working with local residents and nonprofit partners, we are conveners, grant makers and a source for donors who wish to make a difference.

We empower local communities to identify needs and solve local problems. In that spirit, ACF partners with nine Affiliate Community Foundations including Seward, Kenai, Chilkat Valley, Golden Heart, Talkeetna, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Kodiak and Sitka. Led by dedicated volunteers, our nine affiliates are pioneering home-grown philanthropy across Alaska.

We connect donors with causes they care about and aid nonprofits with resources they might not otherwise have. Through our agency funds, nonprofits of all sizes create permanent, steady sources of funding through endowments and other funding mechanisms that allow them to weather tough economic times and save for future needs.

Through our project funds, we pool funding and resources from many organizations and individuals to facilitate long-term projects, such as the statewide Domestic Violence Shelter renovation effort.

As a grant maker, we grant funds to a wide variety of causes – arts, education, health and wellness, environmental projects and even disaster relief. In this year alone, ACF has awarded more than $4 million through 600 grants and scholarships to 50 communities across Alaska. Most recently, we've partnered with the Bethel Community Services Foundation to provide assistance following the devastating fire at the Kilbuck School.

As a public trust, we connect people who care with causes that matter. As such, we tailor our services to each individual's charitable and financial interests and help people invest in the causes and organizations they believe will have the most impact in Alaska. We receive gifts of various sizes and in a variety of ways, from cash to stock, real estate and insurance, and help donors make gifts that are both effective and tax-efficient.

Moreover, with deep roots in the community, we have broad expertise regarding community needs in our state. We enable everyone and anyone to support the causes they care about. Because we pool resources, we can multiply the impact of gifts.

Most important, we serve our community because we are led by our community. The Alaska Community Foundation was founded by Alaskans for the long-term benefit of Alaska. It is your community foundation.

Through ACF, residents can create the world they envision through the causes that they support. Whether that's a community without homelessness, or one where beautiful works of art or natural spaces are accessible to all, we help Alaskans realize their visions. By enabling donors to have the ability to give, we help them improve the world in which we all live – and create an Alaska where communities have the resources to thrive.

Interested in learning more about The Alaska Community Foundation and the charitable impact you can make in a partnership with us? Watch for our updates on Facebook, Twitter and on our website during National Community Foundation Week (Nov. 12-18), and contact us at 334-6700.

Nina Kemppel is president and CEO of The Alaska Community Foundation. Prior to her career developing philanthropy in Alaska, she was a world-class cross-country skier who represented the U.S. in four Winter Olympics.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)