Established in 2013, the GSLF has given away $38,000 grants since inception. The fund hopes to boost its principal endowment to over $360,000 this year.

The Greater Sitka Legacy Fund has announced nearly $16,000 in grants to Sitka organizations this year, and is looking to make even more grants in the future.

But the fund has got to raise more money itself for that to happen.

Board president Mike Venneberg and board member Brit Galanin described the work and goals of the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund, during the luncheon meeting of the Sitka Chamber of Commerce last week (11-7-18).

GSLF board president Mike Venneberg is looking ever upward at boosting the organization’s principal endowment — which has hit $360,000 in only five years. “We’re kind of chasing Kodiak,” he said, referring to another community under the Alaska Community Foundation umbrella. GSLF board member Brit Galanin (l.) also wanted Sitka to boost its giving. “I’m a little competitive,” she said. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

To stimulate growth, the Rasmuson foundation is matching all donations to the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund for the next two years, up to $125,000. So far the fund has raised just over $360,000.

And the beauty of the fund, said Galanin, is that these assets are permanent — like an endowment. Only the interest is given away. So the larger the legacy fund grows, the more money there is to distribute as grants.

The Sitka fund is one of 10 community funds created under the umbrella of the Alaska Community Foundation in 2013, and has granted nearly $38,000 since inception.

In this excerpt from their remarks, Venneberg and Galanin explain that the board would like to kick Sitka’s fund into high gear.

Venneberg – Yeah it’s interesting we’ve had a couple of convening sessions that Alaska Community Foundation has, so we get a chance to come to meetings with representatives of all these different communities and it’s good to hear about different things that they’re doing in their towns. But it seems like the foundation in Juneau — they received a $40-million gift that most everyone knows about (from ALE&P owner Bill Corbus) — after receiving that the amount of gifts they got in the community rose dramatically. You see the same thing in Seward; you see the same thing in Haines. Once the ball gets rolling, and people really understand the concept of what this does, and the permanency of it for the community, it really inspires a lot of people to not just give legacy gifts, but to give gifts while they’re around.
Galanin – So you can see here that a few significant legacy gifts can really make an enormous difference. Another thing I’d like to point out, because I’m a little bit competitive, is that we are a little bit behind our cohort. And I think we can do better than that. I’m excited to see the amount of grant making we can do, and the amount of fund raising we can do to continue to build our fund in Sitka.
Venneberg — It’s interesting to see what other towns are doing. Kodiak is probably the one community we’re about level with. In terms of the size of the endowment and when they started — just talking to
board members over the years — we’re kind of racing Kodiak.


Greater Sitka Legacy Fund 2018 awards:

  • $1,500 to Alaska Arts Southeast, LLC for financial aid to assist Sitka students with the cost of Fine Arts Camp

  • $1,500 to Baranof Elementary School for Resource Ready Raingear, to ensure that all students have access to appropriate outdoor clothing to participate in recess and field trips

  • $1,500 to Catholic Community Services for the senior meal program at Swan Lake Senior Center

  • $1,500 to Youth Advocates of Sitka to support Community Teen Night at Hames Center

  • $737 to Artchange, Inc. for 14 Miles II, a film series that profiles residents of Sitka

  • $500 to Southeast Alaska Independent Living to support fishing access for seniors and persons with disabilities

  • $500 to Brave Heart Volunteers to improve office efficiency

  • $500 to Friends of Sitka NEST to support a feasibility study for birthing services in Sitka

  • $500 to the Sitka Homeless Coalition to support expenses associated with an overnight shelter for men


Of the nearly $16,000 in grants awarded by the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund this year, the largest — $1500 — went to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp for financial aid, to Catholic Community Services for the senior meal program at the Swan Lake Senior Center, and to Baranof Elementary School for a lending library of rain gear and boots for children who might not otherwise be able to afford outdoor clothing.

Venneberg said the board agrees to target a different sector of the community every year for grants. This year it was low income Sitkans.