Empowering hope: GCI Suicide Prevention Fund awards 2023 recipients
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — In an ongoing effort to combat the critical issue of suicide and promote mental health awareness in Alaska, GCI through its philanthropy arm, GCI Gives, has awarded $100,000 in grants this year from its GCI Suicide Prevention Fund for local organizations that work in the field daily. This year, eight new and five returning organizations will receive a grant from the fund.
The projects selected to receive a 2023 grant represent diverse, innovative solutions that address mental health disparities, promote community resilience, and develop novel approaches to suicide prevention.
"The passion and dedication of this year's awardees are truly inspiring," said Senior Manager of GCI Gives Tiffany Vassar. "Their projects promise to create a safer and more compassionate Alaska where every individual feels seen and supported."
The 2023 recipients are:
- Alaska Eating Disorder Alliance, Addressing the Blind Spot: A pilot project to improve culturally sensitive eating disorders screening and intervention in rural Alaska.
- Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Living Our Culture: A project to connect community youth groups with focuses on physical health, emotional health, mental and spiritual health, adapted for local culture and values.
- Gold Star Peak, Inc., Gold Star Peak: A project to connect veterans and their families with nature through outdoor excursions, yoga, and self-care.
- Kuspuk School District, Kuspuk Empowers: The project aims to enhance student support, trauma-informed practices, and community connections within the Kuspuk School District, incorporating telehealth services, a districtwide check-in/check-out program, and wellness professional development days.
- Maniilaq Association, Carry the Cure: The project brings the school-based programming “Committed to Life” to five remote villages, aiming to provide inspiration, practical tools, and support for those at risk of suicide.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau: Collaborating with remote Southeast communities to create sustainable suicide prevention plans through community trainings, discussions, and continued support and assistance.
- Native Village of Buckland, Celebration of Life: An annual community event to recognize losses in the community, allow for healing, share suicide awareness, and healthy activities.
- Native Village of Scammon Bay, Quangasvik Reasons for Life: The project aims to prevent suicide and promote resilience within the community by fostering intergenerational connections, engaging in season-specific subsistence activities, and providing cultural guidance to youth.
- Norton Sound Health Corporation, NSHC Native Connections: A project focusing on offering suicide prevention education, cultural activities, and evidence-based trainings to youth ages 12-24 in Nome and surrounding villages, facilitated by cultural instructors and involving Elders and culture bearers.
- Polynesian Association of Alaska, Inc., Pacific Island Suicide Prevention Awareness: A project to better understand the traditional and contemporary cultural impact on stigma around mental health and suicide as a means of education and suicide prevention.
- Railbelt Mental Health and Addictions, Cultural Community Night: A biweekly cultural night hosted by the community and the Nenana Native Association to emphasize positive self-identity and coping strategies through fostering relationships and activities.
- The American Legion Jack Henry Post 1, Jack Henry Post 1 eSports Lounge: The project will establish an inclusive program that merges gaming events, peer support, and mental health resources by collaborating with local gaming communities, veteran organizations, and mental health professionals.
- YoungLife, LyfePact Expansion: A project to deliver LyfePact boxes that provide baby items, personal care, shelf stable, and fresh food to teenage parents once a month. The boxes also include education materials and information about mental health resources.
The 2022 recipients made great strides and lasting impacts for their local programs with their grant funding. From implementing prevention trainings across the state to hosting in-person programming to decrease isolation, these projects are actively helping Alaskans.
"As a past recipient of the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund, we have expanded our outreach efforts to underserved populations, creating a lifeline for those who often feel isolated and unheard," said Anthony Cravalho from The Upper Kobuk "We Need You" campaign.
Kirk Alkire, president of Gold Star Peak, shared, "Through this project, we've learned that those struggling with PTSD cannot heal with a one-and-done engagement. It is an ongoing connection that must be continuous to be effective. There is an absolute need to connect with, remain engaged with, and continue to follow up with veterans in need.”
Each year since 2016, the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund has provided $100,000 to support initiatives and organizations dedicated to preventing suicide and offering support to those affected by it. Past recipients have made significant strides in suicide prevention and mental health awareness and have profoundly impacted individuals and communities across the state. From offering evidence-based prevention training to networking opportunities for veterans through outdoor activities, these initiatives have fostered resilience, provided critical resources and helped reduce stigma around mental health.
About GCI Gives
GCI is one of Alaska’s leaders in corporate philanthropy, donating approximately $2 million each year in cash, products and connectivity to organizations across the state. GCI is committed to giving back to the communities it serves and provides employees with 16 hours of paid leave to volunteer with local organizations. In 2022, nearly 500 GCI employees volunteered more than 4,000 hours. For more information about GCI Gives, visit www.gci.com/gcigives.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $4 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.