Giving Thanks

In honor of National Community Foundation Week, November 12-18, and the holiday season
this is a feature piece written by ACF President and CEO, Nina Kemppel. This was published by Alaska Dispatch News November 25, 2016.

As we approach the season for giving thanks and the time when we reflect on how grateful we are for the blessings in our daily lives, I want to acknowledge all of the individuals, community members, organizations, and visionaries whose generosity and service has made Alaska a place we are proud to call home. Despite the challenges our state has undergone this year, I find that we at The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) are in a fortunate vantage point to see how Alaskans have come together to weather the storm and have supported their communities now more than ever. At ACF, we witness your generosity every single day.

Thank you. This year, we are grateful for you who have made possible 50 million dollars in grantmaking since our founding in 1995.

That’s 50 million dollars that has been dedicated for the benefit of all Alaskan communities in the past 21 years. We thank every one of our donors whose support has granted scholarships to Alaskan students with big dreams, helped victims of domestic violence, given food and clothing to needy families, provided shelter for those without a place to sleep, put books in the hands of eager children, and funded community projects across the state.

And the best part of all this support is it came from you. It came from communities across Alaska. Every single grant provided by The Alaska Community Foundation was made possible by individuals coming together to grow a better future for our state.

Thank you
to our nonprofits partners for their incredible work in Alaska. Many of these organizations hold funds here at ACF, like the Seward Community Library Association. Their fund is used to support the oldest continuously running scholarship in the state. Since 1976, they have been supporting students who care about the Seward library and museum.

Other organizations who hold funds at ACF are groups united under shared causes – such as the Chugach Park Fund. The individuals who make up this group care deeply about Chugach State Park and are working to maintain trails and accessibility so that all might enjoy the wilderness we love and cherish.

Thank you to those individuals who are fundholders here at ACF. They support causes most important to them through their funds and use the administrative support and shared giving opportunities at ACF to make their giving more impactful. Many of these fundholders connect deeply with the community through their funds and share their charitable goals with their families. One such family is Barbara Norton and Brad Cruz, who have told us,

[Through our fund at ACF] we see ourselves as part of the community – and ACF has helped us expand our community to include the whole state of Alaska.

Thank you to the donors and founders of our scholarship funds, many of these established in memory of individuals whose legacy now lives on in the dreams of other students. One such fund is the Megan Rawson Scholarship Fund, established for Megan Rawson, a young teacher at East High School, whose scholarship will support students from her high school who also wish to become teachers.

Thank you to those who choose to unite under common causes and pool their resources when they establish, give to, or support our Field of Interest or Unrestricted funds. These funds support a variety of causes, such as basic needs, arts, the great outdoors, education, and the environment. One of these is a new Social Justice Fund. Founded through the generosity of a visionary individual and supported by many community members, this fund seeks to promote strong civic engagement, equity in access to basic services, and equal rights for all.

Thank you to our Affiliate Volunteer Advisory Boards. The Affiliate Program is the heart of ACF and the core to our mission. These incredible volunteers understand the causes that are most important to their local communities and recommend grants to nonprofits that are making a difference in their hometowns. Located in nine different locations across the state, these volunteers are practicing homegrown philanthropy, galvanizing their communities by addressing local needs and encouraging their communities to invest in themselves through long-term endowments. Thank you to the Advisory Board Members of Chilkat Valley Community Foundation, Golden Heart Community Foundation, Greater Sitka Legacy Fund, Jessica Stevens Community Foundation, Kenai Peninsula Foundation, Ketchikan Community Foundation, Kodiak Community Foundation, Petersburg Community Foundation, and Seward Community Foundation.

Every single grant at ACF is exciting primarily because it represents the impact that many gifts and many individuals have when we join together for a collective cause. Every gift – from $25 to $250,000 – can have incredible impact when joined with others. Together, we can do more than we could alone.

Thank you to everyone who is growing philanthropy in Alaska and giving back to their communities. Every day at ACF we witness the love that Alaskans have for their state. Indeed, in a year marked by economic challenges, we are already celebrating more than $3.6 million in grants this year that reached more than 40 communities in our state. Thank you all for your vision, your generosity, and your support. You are strengthening Alaska, now and forever.

Nina Kemppel is President and CEO of The Alaska Community Foundation. A life-long Alaskan, Nina is passionate about growing philanthropy in our state.