Now in its fifth year, CIRI Shareholder Engagement Senior Manager Darla Graham decided Take the Next Generation to Work Day needed a facelift. First up: shorten and simplify the name. Second, create fresh, engaging program content. Third, incorporate CIRI’s mission, vision and values.
“We completely revamped the program this year,” Graham said. “With active, collaborative activities, we hope to plant the seed for future engagement with the company.”
Next Gen Day is open to CIRI shareholders and confirmed, registered descendants 10 years of age through high school. The event is held the third Monday in January to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an Anchorage School District holiday. Participants spend the day at the Fireweed Business Center, CIRI’s corporate headquarters in midtown Anchorage.
Next Gen Day not only provides an inside look into CIRI and future opportunities available to youth, but it does so through activities that combine technology with education and mentorship. For instance, all seven of this year’s participants engaged in a mini-video challenge, which required them to interview CIRI staff. Videos were edited with the help of former CIRI summer intern John Sallee, who now works as a program manager for The RIVR.
2019 Next Gen Day began with ice-breaker activities led by staff of The RIVR, a youth-oriented online radio stream that is a program of CIRI-founded Koahnic Broadcast Corp. Graham then led the group through “CIRI 101,” which gave an overview of the company’s founding, history and business segments, its family of nonprofits, and the many programs and benefits available to CIRI shareholders and descendants. A mini-video challenge was followed by a presentation from The CIRI Foundation, the purpose of which was to share information about post-secondary scholarship and grant opportunities. Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s mobile “Fab Lab” (fabrication laboratory) led the cultural activity, which consisted of using a laser-powered cutter and etcher to create wooden masks—another example, Graham said, of “combining cutting-edge educational tools with traditional Alaska Native cultural values.” The day wrapped up with Letters to Leadership, which asked participants to write letters to CIRI executives and staff with any questions they might have. Employees will answer the letters personally.
“2019 Next Gen Day participants were on their feet, active and engaged, for most of the day,” Graham said. “They were walking around the building, talking to staff, working collaboratively and trying to get the most out of their experience. The CIRI value of Excellence—producing high-quality work, thinking creatively and considering new ideas—shone throughout the event. Participants had awesome feedback, and I’m already looking forward to next year!”