Sealaska Pledges $1 Million to COVID-19 Relief, Recovery
Sealaska’s board of directors approved a $1 million COVID-19 relief and recovery package to help Alaska Native communities respond to the impact from the coronavirus. This pledge provides emergency response funding for several nonprofit organizations delivering urgent recovery services. The donation will also bolster the efforts of tribes throughout Southeast Alaska and other support agencies across the state that are working to meet emergency needs.
Several of the organizations being funded specifically support Alaska Native elders and youth at a time when they are most vulnerable. Although special relief initiatives are rolling out from federal and local governments, Sealaska is looking to provide immediate support for shareholders who are disproportionately affected by the economic consequences of the crisis.
“The board felt strongly that we needed to move— and move quickly— to help our shareholder families and neighbors,” says Morgan Howard, Sealaska finance committee chair. “None of us know what the greatest needs will be in the future. So in order to be strategic and nimble we are moving resources to local organizations that know how to prevent the most vulnerable people from falling through the gaps.”
Approximately $500,000 will be disbursed immediately to a number of organizations serving people across Alaska and the Seattle area, including all nineteen federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska, the Blood Bank of Alaska, and Capital City Fire/Rescue. This funding will address emergency needs to help stabilize families, ensure delivery of essential services like food distribution, and help parts of the population including the homeless and others struggling during this crisis. The full list of organizations can be found on our COVID-19 response page on our website.
The remainder of the $1 million will be deployed over the next several months to organizations in concentrated areas where Sealaska shareholders reside: Southeast Alaska, Anchorage, and Seattle. This funding, according to the corporation, is intended to help its people recover and rebuild in the long term.
“Sealaska has a unique opportunity to help our communities during a time of great need,” said Joe Nelson, Sealaska board chair. “We will do our best to direct these resources to organizations and people working courageously on the front lines. We understand all too well that our relatives are over-represented in vulnerable populations during normal times. We will get through this crisis together.”
Sealaska’s pledge builds on an initial donation of $25,000 to the Food Bank of Alaska and the Southeast Food Bank to provide food for shareholders and neighbors as quickly as possible. The corporation also established a partnership with the Juneau School District to ensure the students who rely on school meals have access to food when there are no classes.
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Alaska’s Giving Pipeline
Few large foundations support “the general good” or social service projects in Alaska, so the Last Frontier has a pretty thin philanthropic layer, according to United Way of Anchorage Vice President Cassandra Stalzer. However, the oil and gas industry has a history of stepping in and filling the gaps in Alaska communities by providing money and volunteers for myriad charitable efforts in the state.