Alaska Native educational foundation recognized for giving efforts
grounded in traditional values.

(ANCHORAGE, AK) – The CIRI Foundation (TCF), a private Alaska Native educational foundation originally founded by Cook Inlet Region Inc., was recently awarded the Native Americans in Philanthropy’s (NAP) 2014 Tribal Philanthropy Award.

The award was established by NAP to honor the exceptional work of Native communities through acts of philanthropy.  The award recognizes Tribal giving programs that practice philanthropic giving grounded in traditional values and traditions and works to advance the role of philanthropy between Native communities and mainstream philanthropy.

According to NAP, the essence of Native cultures is manifested through acts of giving.  As an expression of their cultures and in honoring the principle of generosity, Native peoples give to honor, celebrate, and show their responsibility toward family members, friends and community.

TCF was established in 1982 by Cook Inlet Region Inc. with a mission to promote individual self-development and economic self-sufficiency through education and to maintain pride in culture and heritage among Alaska Natives who are original enrollees of Cook Inlet region and their descendants.

Today, TCF’s day-to-day operations are grounded in the cultural traditions of supporting and giving to the community. One of TCF’s major goals is to encourage the education and career development of its people through offering scholarships and grants. Since its inception, TCF has approved more than 24 million toward post-secondary education and has contributed to the education of many influential leaders within the Alaska Native community and beyond.
“Countless numbers of our recipients have gone on to do amazing things, and in turn, give back to the foundation by becoming TCF ambassadors and to the community through the great work they do. We are supporting a circle of giving and that makes the work we are honored to do very important,” says Susan Anderson, President and CEO of The CIRI Foundation.
TCF also participates in giving efforts through its project grants. The grants are awarded to non-profit or tribal organizations to support programs that further the education and heritage goals of the foundation in the community.  Since the 1990’s, more than 2.5 million has been awarded toward project grants. Past recipients include the National Museum of the American Indian, Best Beginnings, Native Youth Olympics, the Anchorage Museum Association’s The Dena’ina Way of Living exhibit and more than 260 other projects throughout Alaska.
In addition to its own programs, TCF has been able to assist other organizations with their philanthropic desires by helping to establish scholarship and grants programs. Over the years, TCF has established and administered several village corporations’ programs, some which have grown into their own foundations, a service TCF is glad to provide to better assist others in their giving.
TCF has also been working to bring the attention of national grant makers to the granting opportunities in Alaska and the Alaska Native Community. A goal that was met with a lofty first success when TCF became an intermediary grant maker in 2013 for a large national foundation.  Funds from that partnership are currently used to support TCF’s A Journey To What Matters grants, which focus on projects involved in the revitalization of Alaska Native Arts and Culture throughout the state of Alaska.
“TCF offers so much more than just financial support, we offer mentorship to our recipients and team members, we partner with other foundations to fund projects, we have interns placed in a variety of organizations, we are helping others to establish education programs, and we are bringing in national funding. We are very involved in multiple areas of education. Even all of TCF’s employees are former scholarship recipients, who are now working for TCF and paying it forward,” says Dr. Jeff Gonnason, TCF Chairman. “It’s the vision we had 32 years ago when TCF was founded.”
About The CIRI Foundation
The CIRI Foundation’s (TCF) primary goal during the past 32 years has been to encourage the education and career development of Alaska Native enrollees and their descendants of Cook Inlet Region. A second, and equally important goal, has been to perpetuate, promote and enhance the heritage of the Region’s indigenous people through programs that foster appreciation and understanding about the Region’s Native traditions. The Foundation and its programs are funded primarily by its nine endowments and private donations. TCF was established in 1982 by Cook Inlet Region, Inc.