A Family's Legacy: How the Atwood Foundation Gives in Anchorage

PHOTO: ROCKY GRIMES/SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: ROCKY GRIMES/SHUTTERSTOCK

“Perhaps no family has had more influence on the development of Alaska's social, economic and civic life than that of Bob Atwood and his wife, Evangeline Rasmuson Atwood.”

That’s a bold statement to make, and it’s the first one you’ll read when you visit the Atwood Foundation’s website. It’s also arguably true. Bob Atwood was a newspaperman who met a social worker from Alaska named Evangeline Rasmuson, who also happened to be the daughter of the president of the Bank of Alaska. Over the years, Bob pushed for Alaska’s statehood, helped build Anchorage’s airport, helped establish local higher educational institutions, and got involved in Alaska’s oil industry. Meanwhile, Evangeline was committed to community and public service and was a leader in “more civic organizations and public enterprises than perhaps anyone else in her time.”

The Atwoods were definitely a fascinating pair, and you can read more about them in this book. But what we’re most interested in is the legacy of giving that they left behind for the people of Anchorage. Here are a few important things to know about the Atwood Foundation’s grantmaking in Alaska today.

Top Interests Are Arts, Journalism, History, and the Military

Although the Atwood Foundation supports a broad range of causes, it keeps very specific preferences in mind. For example, it commonly supports the local art scene in Anchorage, as well as journalism, historical preservation, and the area’s military community. Overall, these types of efforts should educate youth and/or engage local families to bring the community together as a whole. In addition to these top funding causes, Atwood also funds post-secondary journalism education efforts at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and scholarships at Alaska Pacific University.

Grants Stay Very Local

When Bob and Evangeline moved to Anchorage, it had a population of just 2,200 people (today it’s more like 294,356), but they saw opportunity where others saw little more than untamed wilderness. The city of Anchorage was very near and dear to the founders’ hearts, and this is where grantmaking is focused still today. The vicinity around Anchorage occasionally sees this funder’s support too. In the past, grant application deadlines have been set in February, May, and August.

Consult the Foundation Before Applying

Fortunately for Alaska grantseekers, the Atwood Foundation accepts grant applications from nonprofits. However, it does not want to receive an application without talking to you first. Call and speak with the foundation staff at least a couple weeks before the next grant application deadline for the best chances at funding. Atwood rarely funds groups that it doesn’t consult with first.

Grantmaking Is Still Guided by Family

Although Bob and Evangeline have passed away, the Atwood Foundation is still guided by the family. All members of the couple’s immediate family have passed away, but Evangeline’s nephew, Ed Rasmuson, currently chairs the Atwood Foundation.  The foundation employs a staff and board consisting of non-family members too, including Ira Perman, who has been the executive director since 2014.

Read more about this funder in IP’s Northwest Funding Guide profile of the Atwood Foundation.