Supporting Each Other

In November 2015, a raging fire destroyed the Kilbuk School in Bethel.

A community landmark, the building that was destroyed hosted 300 students within the Yup’ik immersion school, Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, as well as the Kuskokwim Learning Academy, an alternative boarding high school that housed about 40 students. Suddenly, these students were displaced. The 40 students at the boarding school lost their home overnight.

Photo Credit: Bethel Community Services Foundation

Photo Credit: Bethel Community Services Foundation

In the wake of this event, the Yup’ik immersion school was completely destroyed, and took with it necessary auxiliary components of other Bethel schools, including boilers, the water plant, and a kitchen. In addition to the classroom damage and 40 students rendered homeless, the school also lost a storehouse of important cultural and Yup’ik educational materials.

The Alaska Community Foundation partnered with the Bethel Community Services Foundation (BSCF) to enable ACF donors to respond quickly and generously. Days after the fire, ACF and Bethel Community Services Foundation created a fund and urged ACF board members and those with Donor Advised Funds to contribute. The response was remarkable.

In just a few days ACF donors contributed more than $26,000 to help repair the school and assist the students. Among the donors were long-time Donor Advised Fund holders Brad Cruz and Barbara Norton, who told us,

We see ourselves as part of the community – and ACF has helped us expand our community to include the whole state of Alaska.

Contributions to the BCSF Fund will be added to the Quyurramta Fund, the fire relief fund for the school district held by BCSF. ACF is privileged to work closely with community partners and donors around the state, and to connect givers and doers to meet needs wherever they arise – and create an Alaska where communities have the resources to thrive.

* All images submitted courtesy of Bethel Community Services Foundation