For its exceptional philanthropic work, The CIRI Foundation (TCF) was honored with the Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP)’s 2014 Tribal Philanthropy Award. The award recognizes tribal giving programs that practice philanthropic giving grounded in traditional values.
“Pay it forward” is not just a trendy giving philosophy. “At TCF, it’s a way of life,” says TCF president and CEO Susan Anderson, who is a CIRI shareholder and one of the first recipients of a TCF scholarship.
“Countless recipients have gone on to do amazing things, and in turn, give back to the foundation by becoming TCF ambassadors,” she explains. “We are supporting a circle of giving that makes the work we are honored to do very important.”
That “circle of giving” embodies an important principle of Native culture, according to the NAP, a national organization that works to advance the role of philanthropy between Native communities and mainstream philanthropy.
Established by CIRI in 1982, part of TCF’s mission is to promote individual self-development and economic self-sufficiency through education. Today, TCF’s day-to-day operations are grounded in the cultural traditions of supporting and giving to the community. Since its inception, TCF has approved more than $24 million toward post-secondary education, and since the late ’80s, has awarded $2.5 million in project grants.
“TCF offers so much more than just financial support,” says CIRI shareholder Dr. Jeff Gonnason, who serves as TCF chair and secretary of the CIRI Board of Directors. “In addition to providing mentorships, partnering with other foundations, establishing education programs and attracting national funding to Alaskan programs, TCF is inspiring the next generation of philanthropists.”
“Even all of TCF’s employees are former scholarship recipients who are now paying it forward,” adds Dr. Gonnason. “It’s the vision we had 32 years ago when TCF was founded.”