Strengthening Organizations In Alaska

Grantmaking is often focused on a singular cause or an urgent circumstance that requires immediate and succinct support; for instance, when an organization has a unique project, when relief is required following a natural disaster, or when an artist has a vision to bring to life. But the grants essential to organizational success are often the unsung operational grants that support day-to-day function. They allow nonprofits to carry out their missions, serve their communities effectively, and support their staff.

The Strengthening Organizations fund was created in partnership with Rasmuson Foundation to help organizations build capacity and focus on their long-term core missions. Currently in its tenth year, Strengthening Organizations offers applicants the opportunity to become better equipped to meet their goals, ensuring their systems are well-organized and their employees have access to the training and resources they need to provide services successfully. Grant awards are intended to support nonprofits’ ability to develop leadership, program effectiveness, and collaboration, and to cultivate community engagement.

The Alaska Community Foundation is pleased to accept applications for the Strengthening Organizations grant until 5:00 p.m. AKST on September 28th, 2021. To be eligible, an organization must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit or equivalent, including tribes, religious organizations, or local government agencies. Grant requests may be for up to $10,000; most are awarded in the $4,000 to $6,000 range. Applicants are strongly encouraged to ask for a draft review of their application. The staff at ACF are here to help. 

Your organization could join the list of Alaskan nonprofits that have directed their Strengthening Organizations funds into passionate service to their communities for the last ten years.

2017 Grantee – Soccer Association of Homer

The Soccer Association of Homer directed their Strengthening Organizations grant funding toward leadership training that would reflect the developing responsibilities of their organization. For nearly twenty years, they had been a beloved local institution, providing quality athletic programs for Homer youth to build character through cooperation and fun.

But increasingly warm, wet winters meant perpetually muddy fields and unplayable conditions, limiting the already shorter-than-average soccer season and putting their players at a disadvantage compared to their lower-48 counterparts. Supported by enthusiastic community members, SAH spearheaded the effort to construct the South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center (SPARC), an indoor athletic facility. It was designed to serve all ages and abilities in any weather.

The SPARC was an immediate success. Determined to keep it that way and to rise to the new challenges of managing such a facility, SAH used their grant from the Strengthening Organizations Fund to develop a six-month plan for leadership development within their organization. Board members and their new executive director participated in leadership training, emphasizing board responsibilities, communication methods, and how to create an effective business model. Their forethought paid off, and SAH and the SPARC remain pinnacles of the Homer community.

2019 Grantee – Alaska Literacy Program

An Anchorage-based nonprofit, Alaska Literacy Program prides itself on changing lives by teaching literacy skills to English learners and other Alaskans. ALP has provided reading and writing tutorship, GED test preparation, citizenship classes, family literacy programs, and much more for nearly fifty years.

In 2019, the organization looked ahead and saw the need to implement a plan to secure its future. The five-year strategic plan they had executed in 2014 was about to expire. They needed some fresh ideas to bring them forward and help them continue addressing their community’s needs – but their services were in high demand, and time and money were short. They applied for and were awarded a grant from the Strengthening Organizations Fund.

The new funding went straight into a facilitated session that revamped the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, developing future funding resources and reconnecting new board and staff members with the organization’s fundamental values.

2020 Grantee – SPARTA Vets

SPARTA Vets had spent three years educating veterans and other Alaskans about suicide prevention when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, making their mission more critical than ever. They had historically served community members in the Anchorage area, providing free, in-person counseling and suicide intervention training to anyone in need. But the increased isolation of the pandemic threw the need for statewide service into stark relief.

SPARTA applied for a Strengthening Organizations grant with the idea of implementing a free online version of their program that would be accessible anywhere. They especially hoped to direct their new virtual training toward rural Alaska, where a disproportionately high population of veterans and others are at significant risk for suicide.

SPARTA received the Strengthening Organizations grant and directed it toward the increased expenses associated with online service delivery, such as equipment, software, and web services, which they had never needed before as a primarily volunteer-based organization. Expanding their focus from community mental health to nonprofit management required forethought and strategic planning. The grant allowed SPARTA to be intentional and visionary about charting a sustainable future for themselves and the communities they serve.