A Word from the President

CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich

Last month, I was pleased and honored to distribute the proceeds from this year’s CIRI Golf Classic to three deserving nonprofit organizations that focus on youth and education.

Every year since 1983, participants eagerly anticipate CIRI’s popular Golf Classic, which raises money for local charities. In its early days, proceeds from the event supported The CIRI Foundation. When the foundation reached its endowment goal, the tournament expanded to benefit other programs that focus on youth and education throughout the Cook Inlet region.

The whole community plays an essential role in the growth, development and success of its young people. While parents and guardians form the “first line” of defense, the broader community also has a responsibility to ensure our children’s physiological needs are met and that they are supported and nurtured as they move through life.

These are critical times for our young people. Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to Alaska’s fiscal year 2020 budget mean less money for public schools and Head Start programs. Over a three-year period, the University of Alaska system will be hit with a 20% reduction in state funding. Already, university enrollment is down 9.3% statewide and state legislators were told in a recent hearing that 27% of staff at the University of Alaska Anchorage are seeking jobs elsewhere (normal university turnover is less than 5%).

In Alaska, 15% of children and 30% of Alaska Native/American Indian children live below the federal poverty threshold. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, poverty poses the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. Effective public policies—to provide health care, child care and early-learning experiences to young people—can make a difference, but sweeping cuts to education, Medicaid and homeless services in Alaska mean our most vulnerable citizens face increasingly dire circumstances.

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. In these times of growing needs and dwindling state resources, they’re being called on more than ever.

With donations raised from the 2019 CIRI Golf Classic, the following organizations received funds to help them carry out their missions here in Alaska:

  • Alaska Children’s Services/AK Child & Family, which brings hope to troubled youth through a range of mental health services;
  • Camp Fire Alaska’s Before and After School Programs, which offer kids challenging activities and learning experiences while also providing support for working families; and
  • Catholic Social Services’ Clare House, a 24-hour emergency shelter for women and children.

I would like to thank the many generous sponsors and volunteers who helped to make this year’s tournament a success. The sold-out event drew 150 participants and many others played a part by providing sponsorships, donating prizes or purchasing raffle tickets.

The 2020 CIRI Golf Classic will be held Aug. 7 in Anchorage. Proceed recipient solicitation will run Jan. 1 to Feb. 21, 2020. Beneficiaries will be selected based on financial need, with preference given first to organizations/programs and nonprofits within the CIRI family, then to programs that benefit Alaska Native people, education and/or youth programs. To download an application, visit http://cirigolf.com and click the “Proceed Recipients” tab at the top.

Warm regards,

Sophie Minich