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Wells Fargo Donates $50,000 to Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center


Fairbanks, Alaska – Wells Fargo presented a check for $50,000 today to Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center (MTCVC) to help complete the final phase of the Center’s exhibits. Darren Franz, Wells Fargo Northern Alaska District President, presented the check to MTCVC Board Treasurer Brian Ridley during a Tanana Chiefs Conference board meeting.

“Wells Fargo is thrilled to support the Morris Thompson Center in its mission to celebrate Athabascan culture, promote economic development and foster cultural understanding in the Interior,” said Franz.  “This is an investment in the future of Interior Alaska. We believe we’re only as strong as the communities we serve.”

In 2010, Wells Fargo gave $5,000 directly to support the creation and growth of Alaska Native Cultural programs within the Center. This new gift demonstrates support for the continued growth of these programs that celebrate and preserve the rich Athabascan heritage of Interior Alaska’s first people.

The majority of the Center’s exhibits opened in 2009, however one section was put on hold due to lack of funding. “As a partnership of three non-profit organizations, we’ve taken it slow and moved forward when funding is secure,” said Ridley. “This gift from Wells Fargo is extremely important because it jumpstarts the final effort to complete our exhibits,” said Ridley. According to Ridley, the exhibits that are already installed tell the story of ‘how we live’ in Interior Alaska. The next phase continues that story with a focus on the visitor to Alaska – helping them experience how we live and what we do.

The Wells Fargo donation brings the total raised for the MTCVC project to $29,055,000, with an estimated $200,000 still needed. Construction of the MTCVC facility and Phase I of the exhibits was funded with a combination of federal ($16.7M), state ($7.6M), and private ($4.4M) funds. The project required a small line of credit during the construction phase, but that has been paid off and the Center is now debt free.

More than 100,000 people visited the Center in 2010, and 2011 is keeping pace with last year. According to MTCVC Executive Director, the positive response is overwhelming. “Visitors rave about the friendly staff that help them plan their trip, and Alaskans love the exhibits,” said Schumaker. “It’s music to our ears when a local resident tells us we’ve gotten it right.”

Wells Fargo invested $186,000 in more than 30 nonprofits and schools in Interior Alaska in 2011.  In addition, Wells Fargo team members in Fairbanks pledged $24,000 to local charities during the company’s annual Community Support Campaign in September. Wells Fargo has 950 team members in Alaska who serve customers through a network of 60 banking, mortgage, insurance and investment offices, 120 ATMs and online. Each year, Wells Fargo invests $1.5 million in more than 280 nonprofits and schools in Alaska.  Wells Fargo’s Alaska team members logged a record 10,100 volunteer hours in 2010. In 2010, Wells Fargo invested a record $219 million in grants in 19,000 nonprofits, and team members contributed more than 1.3 million volunteer hours around the country.  For more information, please visit: www.wellsfargo.com/about/csr.

Incorporated in 2004 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is a partnership between the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs, Alaska Geographic, and Denakkanaaga, an Alaska Native Elders’ organization. Through exhibits and programs, the new 32,720 square foot multi-use facility’s mission is to 1) celebrate Interior Alaska’s people, land and culture, 2) promote economic development via tourism, with an emphasis in rural Alaska, and 3) to be a community gathering place, where diverse cultures come together to understand, appreciate, and respect one another. The Center is open 7 days a week year round, 8am-5pm in the winter, and 8am-9pm in the summer and has served 95,000 people so far in 2012. For more information, visit www.morristhompsoncenter.org.


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