CIRI Invests in Community

CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich (third from right) and Chief Strategy Officer Sarah Lukin (second from left) present a check to the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. Photo courtesy of KIT.

Sharing what you have with others is an important Alaska Native value, and CIRI is dedicated to corporate philanthropy. CIRI Board Directors and employees personally engage in community activities through volunteerism, personal giving and sharing, leading local and statewide fundraising efforts, and serving without compensation on the boards of many nonprofit and community organizations. Additionally, CIRI encourages employees to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice and provides the opportunity to volunteer with several of our community partners throughout the year.

CIRI corporate giving is focused on organizations that benefit children and education, Alaska Native culture and heritage, and that serve those experiencing housing instability and food insecurity.

“I could not be prouder of CIRI and our team of employees this year,” said CIRI Board of Directors Chair Doug Fifer. “From dedicating their time and talents to a variety of worthy causes to raising money for organizations that improve our community, they have gone above and beyond and truly embodied CIRI’s values of Respect—treating people with dignity, showing empathy—and Unity, the power of many working together to fulfill one mission.”

2022 CIRI charitable giving highlights include:

Alaska Community Foundation: In September, former Typhoon Merbok morphed into a powerful storm that impacted communities along more than 1,000 miles of Western Alaska coastline, with a federal disaster declaration made Sept. 24. The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) established a disaster recovery fund for individual donations to which CIRI was pleased to donate $5,000. Thanks to support from the Rasmuson Foundation, 100% of ACF donations went to relief efforts in Western Alaska.

Alaska Native Heritage Center: CIRI is thankful for our partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC), a community nonprofit that serves as a cultural and education center dedicated to celebrating Alaska Native heritage. Throughout 2022, CIRI coordinated with ANHC on our Alaska Native Word of the Week—audio recordings and translations of words in the Dena’ina, Inupiaq and Yup’ik languages—and traditional recipes. In August, CIRI was pleased to donate $50,000 to ANHC’s Garden Party fundraiser.

Anchorage Park Foundation: The Indigenous Place Names Project is a step toward recognizing and honoring the Dena’ina language, knowledge and innovations in Alaska. The Anchorage Park Foundation, in partnership with ANHC, Anchorage Museum, Native Village of Eklutna and Rasmuson Foundation, is working to install Dena’ina place name signs in Anchorage’s parks, along trails and in public spaces. CIRI is proud to be a contributor, and CIRI Shareholder and employee Darla Graham (Yup’ik) serves on the project’s advisory committee.

This halibut won “best original design” at the CIRI Can Sculpture contest, with all cans donated to the Food Bank of Alaska. Photo by Kevin Bennett.

Food Bank of Alaska: As part of CIRI’s Values Week celebration (held Sept. 26-30), employees divided into seven teams to construct sculptures from cans and nonperishable food items. CIRI provided 100 cans per team, and teams were encouraged to purchase additional cans. The contest theme was “honoring all cultures.” An award was given for best original design, and honorable mentions went to most cans used and best use of labels. In all, more than 2,500 cans and packaged food items were donated to the Food Bank of Alaska.

Kenai Peninsula Food Bank: The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank provides food to more than 70 nonprofit agencies throughout the Kenai Peninsula borough. In June, its Spring Festival raised money to purchase locally grown foods for the food bank. CIRI was pleased to offer a $5,000 matching grant, bringing the total raised to $10,000.

Kenaitze Indian Tribe: This fall, CIRI presented a check for $50,000 to the Kenaitze Indian Tribe for the construction of its Kahtnuht’ana Dena’ina Community Hall and Harvest Pavilion. The project will enhance the tribe’s food sovereignty and youth-education programs through modernized facilities and honor the location’s traditional spiritual and cultural importance as a gathering place for community events.

United Way of Anchorage: CIRI has long supported United Way’s efforts in the areas of education, income and health. Over the years, CIRI and its employees have invested approximately $2 million in Southcentral Alaska through ongoing support to United Way of Anchorage. This year’s employee giving campaign, held Nov. 9-16, resulted in 99 individual employee pledges that totaled more than $46,100. Thanks to CIRI’s 50% corporate match, $69,150 will go to United Way of Anchorage.