I recently had the pleasure of spending time with young shareholders and descendants at Next Gen Day, held Jan. 20 at the company’s corporate offices in Anchorage.
An annual event, Next Gen Day provides a behind-the-scenes introduction to CIRI. Youth interact directly with company leadership and employees to learn more about CIRI—its founding, history and business segments—and witness a bit of what our day-to-day looks like.
By demonstrating to young shareholders and descendants the value of education, helping them discover the power and possibilities of various careers, providing an opportunity for them to share how they envision the future and helping to guide them toward their goals, programs like Next Gen Day plant the seed for future involvement with the company.
CIRI’s youth programs—deemed Next Gen initiatives—are thoughtfully crafted to meet the needs of young shareholders and descendants, whether they reside in the Cook Inlet region or elsewhere. Honoring feedback we have received over the years, including from our CIRI Shareholder Participation Committee members, combined with genuine focus on how we can best connect with and support the next generation, Next Gen initiatives engage the future leaders and shareholders of CIRI and pass down valuable knowledge to those who will shape the future of the company.
The importance of youth programs cannot be overstated. According to the federal website youth.gov, programs that engage young people in intentional, productive and constructive ways while recognizing and enhancing their strengths can lead to better health, social and educational outcomes. When young people are surrounded by a variety of opportunities for positive encounters, they are less likely to participate in risky behaviors and more likely to successfully transition into adulthood.
CIRI has a responsibility to provide its youth access to a broad range of opportunities to interact with the company and learn its rich culture and history, while also supporting educational and career advancement. At the same time, by including our young people, the company benefits from their fresh perspectives, new ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets.
Youth programs play an important role in:
- Enhancing or instilling feelings of belonging, ownership and self-worth;
- Fostering quality relationship with peers and adults;
- Giving young people the opportunity to discuss and decide their own values; and
- Imparting a sense of hope or purpose for the future.
Whether it’s one of CIRI’s Next Gen initiatives, a program at one of our nonprofits or an independent youth-serving organization, I urge you to encourage the young people in your life to get involved!
In addition to CIRI Next Gen initiatives, there are youth opportunities available through the company’s family of nonprofit organizations:
- Cook Inlet Tribal Council offers educational and youth-development services that enrich academics, instill cultural values and encourage family involvement. They include STEM Learning Labs, Native Youth Olympic Games, The Schoolyard afterschool program and Strengthening Our Youth/Tribal PREP. For more information, visit citci.org/education.
- Southcentral Foundation’s RAISE program provides opportunities for on-the-job work experience in the context of Alaska Native cultural values. Designed to develop leadership skills in Alaska Native and American Indian youth 14–19 years old, RAISE offers three separate sessions per year: summer, winter, and graduate programs. Each exposes participants to health-related careers and workplace expectations while supporting both personal and professional development. For more information, visit southcentralfoundation.com/raise-program.