Rural and Tribal Service Highlighted During Trip to Alaska
AmeriCorps leadership spent a week in Alaska to visit members and volunteers
WASHINGTON, DC – Last month, AmeriCorps leadership visited communities across Alaska to listen, learn, and identify new opportunities for the agency to work hand-in-hand with rural and tribal communities to meet local needs. During his visit, AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith, alongside Yasmeen Shaheen-McConnell, AmeriCorps’ senior advisor for strategic partnerships and acting strategic advisor for Native American affairs and a delegation from Native Americans in Philanthropy, Native Forward Scholars Fund, The Aspen Institute and Serve Alaska, visited local nonprofit organizations, governments, and Alaska Native leaders and community members in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel and Scammon Bay.
"AmeriCorps shows up in every corner of the nation, including Alaska, where thousands of members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers have had a lasting impact," said Michael D. Smith, CEO of AmeriCorps. "Our members serving in rural and urban communities across Alaska are mitigating the effects of extreme weather, promoting health equity, restoring state and national parks and strengthening Alaska's workforce. Many of our AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serve in tribal communities, increasing access to care and food and preserving indigenous cultural traditions and languages. I was honored to engage with Alaska's diverse communities during my visit and explore new ways to grow the impact of community service across Alaska."
CEO Smith also highlighted the critical investments made by the Biden-Harris Administration, including the more than $4.3 million AmeriCorps invested in communities across the state last year, to reduce barriers to service in Alaska.
"We recognize the wisdom that our Alaskan Native family brings, and it is our privilege to listen, learn and incorporate their unique perspective to form these strategic partnerships," said Angelique Albert, CEO, Native Forward. "It's all about collaboration with scholars, alumni and partners to build relationships to garner a positive and long-lasting impact in Alaskan communities."
In Anchorage, the delegation met with RurAL CAP’s Elder Mentors, an AmeriCorps Seniors program focusing on language revitalization in Alaska Native communities across Alaska. As part of the program, RurAL CAP recruited 55 Elder Mentors directly from the communities in which they serve, who help Alaska Native children learn their traditional languages to ensure that the history, cultures and languages are not lost. Last year, Elder Mentors worked with more than 700 youth in the classroom or through direct tutoring. These AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, many of whom are not native English speakers, work in various locations such as New Stuyahok, Togiak, Pilot Station, Russian Mission, Kwigillingok, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan and Kodiak, teaching languages like Yup'ik, Chup'ik and Inupiat.
"The foundation of national service--meaningful relationships and supporting communities--are core indigenous values," said Eric R. Stegman, CEO, Native Americans in Philanthropy. "We are excited to spend this time in communities in Alaska alongside our partners at AmeriCorps listening, sharing and building new relationships that will support Alaska Native communities."
While in Scammon Bay, the delegation met with tribal leaders and AmeriCorps member Abe, serving with the RurAL CAP Resilient Alaska Youth program.
"Non-profits are an important part of the Alaskan community," said Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dahlstrom. "On behalf of the State of Alaska, I'm grateful for the work done by those serving in AmeriCorps through Serve Alaska."
"It was an honor to join our relatives at AmeriCorps for the Alaska Partnership Tour. Together, with Natives in Philanthropy and Native Forward, we will continue to strengthen our relationships with the Alaska Native community, especially our youth, for what we know to be true: sustainable solutions and impact start locally," said Nikki Santos, Executive Director, Center for Native Americans Youth.