The Norwegian Encore slips past Douglas Island on Sept. 8, as part of 2021's abbreviated cruise season. In 2020, COVID-19 halted all cruise traffic. Earlier this year, Norwegian Cruise Lines announced $10 million in donations to communities hard hit by 2020’s pandemic-induced suspension on cruising, including $2 million to organizations in Juneau. Recently, local organizations have started to receive the money. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

Donations flow to local nonprofit groups

NCL money offers pier-to-peer support

This story has been updated to include additional information and to clarify how money donated to the Juneau Carbon Offset Program will be spent.

Several local nonprofit organizations have additional money in their coffers this week, thanks to a donation from Norwegian Cruise Line.

Earlier this spring, NCL announced $10 million in donations to communities hard hit by 2020’s pandemic-induced suspension on cruising. Of the total donation, the company offered $2 million to Juneau.

In June, City and Borough of Juneau assembly members grappled with whether to accept the donation on behalf of the city and ultimately voted to ask the company to direct the donation to local charities, clearing the way for money to flow.

Amy Skilbred, executive director of Juneau Community Foundation, told the Empire by phone on Monday morning that the foundation received $1 million dollars and has distributed to “trusted, long-term community partners.”

An additional $800,000 will jointly go to the Greater Juneau Area Chamber of Commerce and the Juneau Economic Development Council.

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In an email earlier this month, Craig Dahl, executive director of the chamber, said the money will be used to support a program that provides grant funding to small businesses most impacted by the loss of the cruise ship season.

Dahl said program details are in the final stages and will be shared soon.

According to Howard Sherman, executive vice president onboard revenue and destination development for NCL, the company donated an additional $100,000 to construction costs at the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s downtown park, $50,000 to the renovation of Centennial Hall and $50,000 for renovations at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic parish and cathedral. Sherman said the church will use the money to fund needed repairs and improve access to the building.

Targeting the funds

Skilbred said that the Community Foundation focused on high-priority basic social service needs, such as food insecurity, homelessness and mental and physical health when deciding how to allocate the donation.

“We also looked at this as how to do we leave social services in a better place after the pandemic than before the pandemic,” she said.

Good working relationships and long histories with local nonprofits made the process easier, she said.

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“We’ve given out money to organizations in this area since 2015. Every year we pull people together to find out what the highest needs are,” she explained, adding that she asked local organizations “what needs they might have that they can use the money for pretty immediately or the near future.”

Skilbred said that, like many donors, NCL helped to direct use of the donation.

“They made clear what they wanted the funds used for, with it going to social services in Juneau,” Skilbred said.

Skilbred explained that the direction included opportunities to use the money for capital and construction projects, which is an efficient way to use one-time donations.

“It makes a big difference on a one-time basis,” she said.

Matching money

St. Vincent de Paul Juneau, one of the organizations receiving money as part of the donation, will turn $50,000 earmarked for large repairs on housing units into $100,000 thanks to a matching donation from an anonymous, local donor.

SVDP general manager Dave Ringle said that the money will help the organization keep its housing units safe and up-to-code.

“Every donation is a blessing and we appreciate,” Ringle said in a Monday afternoon phone interview.

Spreading the money

According to a news release from the Juneau Community Foundation, NCL’s donation has been allocated to these local organizations:

$500,000 to United Human Services for the construction of the Teal Street Center Building.

$25,000 to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank for food purchases.

$150,000 to The Glory Hall’s operating funds.

$50,000 to. Vincent de Paul’s for housing building repairs.

$8,000 to Housing First for facility maintenance and repairs.

$60,000 to Tlingit & Haida Regional Housing Authority to make repairs to the Juneau Youth Shelter.

$60,000 to AWARE for building the Cordova Street Apartments.

$10,000 to Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska to support reentry housing software.

$10,000 to Renewable Juneau’s Carbon Offset Fund to assist lower-income families in reducing home heating costs and associated carbon emissions.

$10,000 to SAIL for home revisions to ensure continued housing.

$45,000 to the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc. for health and wellness workforce investment.

$25,000 to Bartlett Regional Hospital to purchase a vehicle to support the Navigator Program.

$30,000 to Capital City Fire & Rescue to purchase a vehicle to support the Mobile Integrated Health Program Paramedic Vehicle.

$12,000 to the Bartlett Foundation for Safe at Home and Safe Sitter program kits.

$5,000 to the Juneau Community Foundation to support work with social service organizations on priorities.

“We appreciate the donation from Norwegian Cruise Line and the opportunity to provide funding for community social service construction projects as well as programs,” said John Pugh, Juneau Community Foundation Board President, in a press release.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

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