Alaska News

Grant will fund float coats for Savoonga whalers

The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, a mostly grant-funded nonprofit, received nearly $25,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation last month for new safety equipment in Savoonga.

The funds will go to new float coats -- personal flotation devices -- for Savoonga whaling crews.

"As an advocate for subsistence whaling, we represent villages that are highly dependent on the subsistence hunt for their cultural and nutritional needs," said Jenny Evans, the grant administrator for the commission. "One of the ways we help our member villages is by seeking funding to assist them with their subsistence hunts. Whaling can be very dangerous and hunter safety is a top priority for the commission."

The commission from Savoonga reached out to the board for help so they could provide the safety equipment to its hunters.

Along with private donations, the commission gets most of its funding through grants from agencies like Rasmuson.

"Grants such as those offered by the Rasmuson Foundation are instrumental to the daily operation of the organization and the food security of the villages we represent," said Evans, adding that the commission also receives grants from the North Slope Borough, NOAA and the Oak Foundation.

The most recent grant was one of several tier 1 awards handed out in the first quarter of 2014, said Cassandra Stalzer, Rasmuson communications director.

The foundation's tier 1 grants program are awards under $25,000 and are handed out to successful applicants for capital projects, technology upgrades, capacity building, program expansion, and creative works.

Applications are accepted year-round, which means there is no deadline, and there is no limit to how many tier 1 awards a nonprofit can receive, if they meet the criteria and they don't currently have an open grant application with the foundation.

The applications are turned around within 90 days, Stalzer said.

"We encourage applicants from all over the state to look at the guidelines and call with any questions; we actually encourage people to call," she said.

The decision on how the grantees are allotted happen by staff at the foundation. Successful applicants serve a community need, have a strong board of directors, have a strong reputation for good practices, and support volunteerism, among other criteria.

And while applicants are encouraged to call with questions, the application can be done online to save time.

"We try to make the process as easy as possible and try to minimize time that's spent unfruitfully," Stalzer said.

Other grantees this quarter are as follows:

• Kodiak Island Housing Authority (Kodiak) will purchase a 28-passenger bus.

• National Parks Conservation Association (Anchorage) will make improvements to the Nabesna public recreation trail in Wrangell-St. Elias Park.

• The Native Village of Tetlin (Tok) will renovate the Tetlin Community Center.

• Kenai Peninsula Food Bank (Soldotna) will purchase equipment and make repairs to the Kenai Peninsula Food facilities

• Covenant House Alaska (Anchorage) will purchase artwork and maintenance equipment.

• Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (Fairbanks) will purchase beds for its shelter in Fairbanks.

This article originally appeared in The Arctic Sounder and is republished here with permission.