Charitable endowment provides more grants for St. Petersburg projects

St. Petersburg shooting range on the Mitkof Highway (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The Petersburg Community Foundation this week announced $32,910 in grants for projects and programs in Petersburg. The foundation’s endowment fund has now donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to nonprofits since residents established it in 2008.

The endowment fund relies on charitable donations from the community. This money is invested under the aegis of the Alaska Community Foundation and the proceeds pay annual grants. This spring, ten organizations will receive payments ranging from one thousand to $8,500.

The chair of the foundation’s advisory board, Liz Cabrera, said the board has tried to award grants to applicants who partner with other organizations to meet significant needs.

“So we tried to highlight those and also support those where it made sense,” Cabrera said. “And just as an example, there’s a new partnership between Petersburg Medical Center and Kinder Skog to establish a once-a-week after-school program for 8-12-year-olds. And as you know, child care children has been a big issue for the foundation and we’ve really tried to raise awareness of that by working with the SHARE Coalition child care task force and now there’s a task force set up at the So we think that this partnership that is forming there is one of the good avenues to really solve the problem in the whole community.

This grant is $5,450 for the Petersburg Medical Center to provide a summer camp for children ages 8-12 as well as Kinder Skog, an outdoor program for children.

Another grant of $2,370 will support the continuation of a summer camp in St. Petersburg offered by the Girl Scouts of America. And the Petersburg Children’s Center will use a thousand-dollar grant to upgrade the center’s sandbox.

During the early years of the COVID pandemic, the foundation had an ongoing grantmaking cycle designed to meet emergency community needs. Cabrera said they return to their grant cycle once a year.

“It was good not to feel like you just had to deal with an emergency this time around, we could actually look a bit longer term and look at more projects in broader areas than we don’t. ‘we’ve been able to do that for the past two years,” says Cabrera.

Cabrera said the foundation has 16 applicants seeking more than $75,000 this grant cycle and they were unable to fund all of the applications. The largest prize, an $8,500 payout, goes to the youth shooting sports club, Devils Thumb Shooters. This group plans to build a new covered training area with five stands on the shooting range of the Mitkof highway. There is also a five thousand dollar grant to the Clausen Museum for interpretive exhibits. The school district will use $4,500 for a new greenhouse for the community garden behind Stedman Elementary. The existing greenhouse was damaged by heavy snowfall last winter.

The Petersburg Arts Council will partner with the school district to replace some audio equipment in the Wright Auditorium using another thousand dollar grant. The public library is receiving $1,780 for a LEGO educational program that will allow high school students to mentor younger children. The Rainforest Festival is receiving $1,310 to bring birds from the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka to several locations in Petersburg.

There is also a $2,000 grant for the Sons of Norway to upgrade the hardware on its front doors. The foundation’s board vice-chair, Glorianne Wollen, didn’t propose the grant, but she’s thrilled to see it funded for another organization she’s a part of.

“As a historic landmark in our community, we became a non-profit organization here last spring and we hope this will help keep the Sons of Norway going forever,” Wollen said. “So that was a really neat and successful first attempt!”

Since the foundation launched the endowment fund, proceeds from the fund have disbursed more than 120 grants totaling $241,000 to 36 organizations. Wollen called it exciting.

“A quarter of a million dollars,” she said. “It’s so exciting for me. We are, we make a difference and it’s all from within and it really follows our independent nature here in Petersburg and I’m very proud of that.

Wollen said the foundation’s board also decided to recognize a longtime volunteer, one of the many people who donate their time.

“There are certainly some remarkable personalities in our community, people who rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion, whatever the issue,” she said. “So we named Dave Berg to our band and thought he would be a stellar first-time winner. Dave has given decades and decades of his time, energy and intellect to so many different bands and we really wanted to recognize this first volunteer of the year with Dave Berg.

Berg has worked with the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department for decades and helps set up community fireworks every year. He has also volunteered with the student-run theater, the Lutheran Church, the Rotary Club, and other groups.

About Elaine Morales

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