The Alaska Native Fund, established in 2011 in a partnership between ACF and an Alaska Native Fund Steering Committee, is an innovative grant program that supports Alaska Native organizations and individuals in seeking solutions to the environmental issues facing their communities. The Fund supports projects that elevate Indigenous Knowledge to address food security, sustainable economic development, alternative energy solutions, environmental health, and climate change. This is the first grantmaking program at ACF to be guided by an Indigenous framework for impacting critical environmental issues.
The inaugural round of grants was awarded in late 2011. In addition to grant making, a 2012 Gathering of Alaska Native non-profit organizations and foundations from around the country was held to build understanding of shared conservation goals and leverage additional support for Alaska Native projects.
Now entering its third year, the fund has awarded $242,500 in grants since it started meanwhile funding requests have totaled more than $1 million. The overwhelming response to the Fund demonstrates the critical need in Alaska to support Indigenous priorities and solutions to some of our most pressing issues.
The Fund’s launch arrived at a time when philanthropic support for Native American causes was declining according to a study by Native Americans in Philanthropy. It was the result of ACF conversations with Alaska Native leaders about their environmental concerns. In 2009, ACF hosted a seminar in partnership with Oak Foundation, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development to discuss those concerns and potential partnerships for a more sustainable Alaska. Read the original report detailing the issues explored at that convening.