GCI Suicide Prevention Fund awards nearly $100,000 to nonprofits focused on suicide prevention in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Every year during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, GCI announces its grant awardees for the upcoming year through the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund. This year, GCI has selected 14 organizations to support through the fund which administers grants to nonprofits in Alaska working tirelessly to prevent suicide in their communities. Since the fund started in 2016, GCI has given more than $600,000 to local organizations to support suicide prevention efforts in Alaska.
“Since 2016, we’ve seen the impact our nonprofit partners can make in communities across the state,” said Jen Nelson, GCI Rural Affairs Director and one of the founders of the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund. “That’s why we continue to fund this grant program, which has become a pillar of GCI Gives, our corporate philanthropy program. As Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, we know the value connection can bring and we hope these funds allow our suicide prevention partners to develop even more connections through their work in the coming year.”
The fund’s application and review process is set up to ensure both organizations that serve small, rural communities, as well as bigger cities across Alaska, are eligible for funding. This allows the grant funds to have an impact on Alaskans of all age groups across the state.
GCI recently hosted a cohort meeting to bring all of the involved organizations together to share information and ideas with each other as they work toward similar goals in the state. The meeting kicked off with introductions from each of the new 2022 grantees.
- Alaska Children's Institute for the Performing Arts (Triumvirate Theatre) is using grant funds to produce a radio show airing dramatized situations that Alaska kids might face. The show will include a roundtable discussion with a psychologist to talk more in-depth about the featured issues and how to better handle them.
- Center for Safe Alaskans is contracting field experts to support the professional development of teachers at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. The development will aim to increase student safety with a focus on designing support systems for Alaska Native youths and trauma-informed classrooms.
- Camp Fire Alaska plans to use the grant funds to continue supporting the growth of intergenerational connectedness in rural Alaska communities by holding community events and cultural sharing between elders and youths.
- Challenge Alaska is going to continue expanding its warrior programs with the grant funds to further provide access to hockey, alpine and Nordic skiing, and adaptive cycling for veterans who are living with disabilities and face higher rates of suicide.
- Choosing Our Roots will use the grant funds to develop an affirming messaging campaign for queer and transgender youth living in the Mat-Su Valley to let them know where they can find safe support.
- Gold Star Peak, Inc. is on a mission to bring veterans and survivors together and will use the grant funds to expand its reach to those who need to get out in nature and connect in a therapeutic way.
- Kenai Peninsula Borough School District began the Sources of Strength program that focuses on student suicide prevention systems and will continue the growth and resource development of this program with the grant funds.
- Maniilaq Association is using the funds to continue the We Need You campaign which is centered on youth suicide with a focus on reaching people on social media. It has expanded these efforts to rural villages with activities and events. This campaign allows kids broader access to needed resources.
- NAMI Juneau/ Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition is expanding its suicide prevention outreach with the grant funds to surrounding villages, which will provide the connectedness and services many rural communities need.
- Native Village of Kwigillingok is using grant funds to implement a youth coalition that meets regularly to connect, play games and make fliers and brochures to educate on suicide prevention. This will help youths express their creative abilities and create a sense of belonging.
- Native Village of Scammon Bay plans to promote resiliency through connection with youth and elders. Organizing frequent season-specific subsistence activities will promote reasons to live and provide tools to help prevent suicide.
- Southeast Regional Resource Center is providing mental health training to 50 people in Southeast Alaska. The grant funds will aid the program's cost of training and travel to rural communities to educate on suicide prevention.
- United Service Organizations, Inc. will use the grant funds to connect Alaska service members who are far away from home during the holiday season by providing holiday-themed meals, parties, and stockings.
- Women In Safe Homes will utilize the grant funds to support the Peer Education Program which employs teens to provide education support and resources to their peers to empower them to have healthy and violence-free relationships.
Through the grant application process, this year's recipients demonstrated their proven success and plans for deploying suicide prevention strategies that are customized to address needs specific to Alaska, especially in rural areas.
The GCI Suicide Prevention Fund has been a catalyst in promoting the well-being of communities across the state. This year's recipients reach a wide range of audiences that GCI is proud to represent. From veterans to LBGTQ+, youths to seniors, the goal of the fund remains the same. Making a lasting and positive impact on reducing the rate of suicide in Alaska.
GCI also hosted a panel of past GCI Suicide Prevention Fund grant recipients at the event. The panel shared valuable insights and ideas with their cohort.
“The things that helped us frame our work were the challenges we didn’t think about at first,” said Dustin Morris with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Things like our programs being very westernized and not considering the cultural values or needs of our rural community members, especially Alaska Native communities. Through this grant and through our outreach, we were able to identify those gaps and start working on that. It was a great outcome and one we didn’t anticipate. I was grateful that our community saw a need and was willing to work with the challenges we were faced with.”
“We believe to help sustainability in suicide prevention efforts, it’s really helpful to have not just the invitation, but wide community engagement,” said Tina DeAsis-Samaniego with Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, a program of NAMI Juneau. “Not forging ahead but building the relationships. There’s a great book out about collaboration happening at the speed of trust. So, building those relationships could be a waiting factor, and sometimes you may be ready to go, but if they aren’t ready to receive you, it’s not the time, not yet.”
“When it comes to suicide prevention, we have to show up and be there,” said Olivia Bridges with Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc. “It’s nice when we don’t need to worry about travel funds. In addition to the travel cost, you might go out and be stuck or on weather hold, so you have to have a cushion funding for additional days in hotel; it’s nice when we’re able to have funding like this that can complete the programming we want to do and also that understands that Alaska is huge, it’s expensive to travel, that’s the reality we deal with.”
Finally, GCI encouraged attendees of the event to participate in its 2022 GCI Wellness Challenge. Alaskans across the state are encouraged to participate by completing four challenges crafted specifically to help people prioritize their mental health. Those who complete the challenge are eligible to win tech prizes at the end of the month. To learn more about the challenge and register, visit www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives/gci-wellness-challenge.
For more information about this year’s grant recipients, including links to their respective websites, visit www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives/gci-suicide-prevention-fund. To learn more about the GCI Gives program, visit www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives.
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.
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.