Bethel Community Services Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports community-based programs in Southwest Alaska in the form of bridge, capital, general operating, and business/enterprise grants. BCSF holds several funds.

FUNDING AREAS: Community development, education, youth, arts and culture, basic needs

IP TAKE:  Make sure to call or email the staff before applying for BCSF support. This is an accessible funder for local groups and very much attuned to needs in the region.

PROFILE: The Bethel Community Services Foundation (BCSF) is based in Bethel, Alaska, and is dedicated to enhancing community-based programs and services. Innovation, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and community development are at the heart of this foundation’s mission. The town of Bethel is the service and transportation hub of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Western Alaska. Most people here are Alaska Native and speak Yupik as their primary language.

This foundation was established in 1992 to support work offered through Bethel Community Services (BCS), which introduced human services programs to the region in 1969. Some of the main programs offered throughout the organization’s history include daycare, youth recreation, mental health, adult basic education, people with developmental disabilities, summer camps, and early intervention services for babies. When BCS dissolved as a corporation, the foundation was created to support philanthropy and community development.

Click here to see a map of BCSF’s current service area in southwestern Alaska. There are approximately eight funds at this foundation; grantseekers can learn more on the website. They include the AREBT Fund, Betty Guy Memorial Nursing Home Fund, Cama~i Dance Festival Fund, John Malone Fund, Quyurramta Fund, Teens Acting Against Violence Endowed Fund, Tundra Women’s Coalition Endowed Fund, and the Y/K Delta Lifesavers Fund. Projects offered by BCSF include free tax preparation services, the Best in the West Competition, the Ice Classic, and #bethelgives.

BCSF awards mini-grants, major grants, and private endowment grants. Bridge grants are their top priority and aim to work with other groups to plan community improvements. Project planning and start-up funding support are offered. Capital grants for new construction and building remodeling are available. General operating support grants are rare but provided on a case-by-case basis.

In some circumstances, the foundation supports business needs for applicants who have a solid business plan established. They suggest contacting the foundation to discuss your idea prior to submitting a grant application. This funder likes to support services outside those covered by traditional funding streams and to work with other funders in collaboration. Both Alaska Native organizations and 501(c)(3) groups are regularly funded, as well as business and enterprise investments that have no tax status restrictions.

The foundation’s executive director is Michelle Dewitt, at 907-543-1812 and michelle@bcsfoundation.org. There is also a program officer, Lisa Whalen, and a maintenance supervisor, Pat Jennings. The address is 1796 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, Bethel, Alaska, 99559.

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