Assemblyman Aaron Swanson. Deputy Mayor Matt Hunter, and Mayor Mim McConnell award $45,000 in city money to eight non-profits. This is a smaller contribution than in years past, so non-profits are seeking more outside money through grants and private donors. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

The Sitka Assembly held their first meeting in their new chambers yesterday night (09-19-16), dedicated to non-profit contributions. The Assembly awarded $45,000 from the general fund to eight non-profit organizations.

See the FY17 non-profit grant requests here: FY17 NonProfit Grant Requests

The largest allocation was to Braveheart Volunteers at $11,000. Also in the Human Services category, Southeast Alaska Independent Living received $8,800, while Sitka Counseling and Prevention received $4,700 and Youth Advocates of Sitka received $1,000.

In the cultural and educational category, the Sitka Fine Arts Camp received $5,000 and the Island Institute received $3,600. And in the community development category, Sitka Trail Works got $7,400 and Greater Sitka Arts Council $3,200.

In their applications, several non-profits emphasized how important local support is for grant applications and leveraging outside money. Recognizing this, Deputy Mayor Matthew Hunter said, “We have some very good services in town provided by these non-profits and I’m excited that we can help them be successful, and continue to bring millions of dollars into Sitka through grants from outside.”

The city’s gave out $75,000 to non-profits last year, but in order to cut spending, reduced that number to $45,000. In 2014, the Assembly dispersed $90,000. With local and state funding sources drying up, non-profits are innovating.

See how Assembly members allocated FY17 non-profit grant requests here: Sept 19 Meeting Scoring Spreadsheet FY17 Non Profits

Dave Neutzel is the Program Director at the Southeast Alaska Independent Living, a resource center for the elderly and disabled. To adapt, SAIL offices around the state are taking on new programs to increase revenue. SAIL is also hiring a formal advocate. “At the statewide level we’re going to start paying for a lobbyist. And so we have to pay for these things to make sure our mission is heard. That there’s this need out there,” Neutzel said.

Also in the audience were staff from the Island Institute and Braveheart Volunteers, who talked about how the city’s contributions will help core programs stay afloat. At Braveheart, the $11,000 will maintain staff positions for the Grief and Bereavement Program and the Volunteer Program.

At the Island Institute, the $3,600 will be funneled into Sitka Story Lab, a workshop for young writers. To fund Story Lab fully, Executive Director Peter Bradley said they’re tapping both grant money and private donors. “Last year, we received funds from the Crossett Fund, which is administered by the Seattle Children’s Hospital using funds from the Pioneer Bar in Ketchikan. We’ve received funding from all over the place for Story lab,” he said.

Compared to last year, half the number of nonprofits applied, from thirteen organizations to eight. Some organizations missed the deadline, while others opted out. Lisa Busch with the Sitka Sound Science Center said their organization didn’t apply because they already receive money through the fish box tax.