CIRI in the Community: CARES Act Update

When CIRI received its allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in August 2021, it committed to working with its family of socially driven enterprises and tribally designated organizations—including Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Southcentral Foundation—to identify programs and projects best suited to receive and deploy funding in compliance with federal law.

Passed by Congress in March 2020, the CARES Act is an economic stimulus bill that provides relief for individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of the relief funds was directed to tribal governments, which included Alaska Native corporations (ANCs).

CIRI received CARES Act funding in the amount of $111.8 million and allocated the funds as follows:

  • Alaska Native health care: $72.1 million
  • Workforce re-entry and economic support: $13.8 million
  • Shareholder and Descendant assistance through CIRI’s Direct Assistance Program: $12.7 million
  • Elder, family, education and other support: $8.7 million
  • Homelessness and housing instability: $4.5 million

Per direction from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, CARES Act funding could not be used for special distributions/dividends, nor could it be used for corporate bonuses or to cover lost company revenues. In all, the Treasury Department reserved $444 million from the CARES Act to distribute to ANCs, which included 12 regional corporations and nearly 200 village corporations. All CARES Act funding was required to be distributed by Dec. 31, 2021.

“Alaska Native people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, experiencing higher rates of infection, hospitalization and mortality than other Americans,” CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich said. “We are grateful to all those who worked to ensure ANCs received their fair share of CARES Act funding, and we are thankful to our partner organizations for responsibly allocating this money where it is most needed.”