The Sitka Assembly awarded $90,000 in grants to local nonprofits, at its meeting Tuesday night (9-9-14).

Seventeen local organizations submitted requests amounting to $164,805. The city has budgeted $100,000 for nonprofit grants this year. That includes $50,000 for human services, $20,000 for cultural and educational efforts, and $20,000 for economic and community development. Another $10,000 is available for emergency requests during the year.

That amount is similar to recent years. In 2014, the assembly awarded $86,450 in nonprofit grants; in 2013, $91,868; and in 2012, $113,828. In 2011, the assembly awarded significantly more: $137,110.

All seventeen organizations received some funding, though many received far less than they had requested.

The largest grant went to Brave Heart Volunteers, which received almost $15,000 for its work providing end-of-life care and grief support. The assembly also awarded nearly $14,000 to the Salvation Army to support its food pantry and soup kitchen, and a little over $9,000 to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp to continue rehabilitating buildings on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

The full list of requests and final grant amounts is here.

Mike Reif spoke for many on the assembly members when he said he wished they could give more.

“Because of my background more in the private sector, this was probably the one area that I received the most education, of the vast work that nonprofits do in this community,” Reif said. “And although we can’t fund you as much as you ask, you’re really appreciated by me as an assembly member but more so by the community.”

Assembly member Phyllis Hackett called the annual process to decide nonprofit grants  “gruesome.”  Each assembly member read out the awards they wanted to give each nonprofit, which were then averaged in a spreadsheet projected onto a screen during the meeting. Representatives of most of the local groups watched from the audience.

The amounts recommended by each assembly member are here.

Hackett stressed that one of the things she was looking for in grant applications was the organizations’ ability to leverage city contributions into outside grants. Given that the city can only give small amounts to most organizations, she said, it seems most useful if that money is used to demonstrate local “skin in the game” when pursuing larger grants from foundations or the state.

“People are using these smaller amounts of money that we’re giving them to turn around and leverage the money to bring more money into their organization and more money into our community,” Hackett said. “That’s outside money to circulate around, which is high quality dollars here for us.”

Hackett said she wished the city would find a new, more systematic process for deciding the awards.

You can find more coverage of the Sitka Assembly here.