GCI donated thousands of dollars to two local organizations this week as part of its philanthropy program.
“These are uncertain times for nonprofits,” said Heather Handyside, GCI’s head of corporate communications and community engagement, who came to Juneau to meet with the organizations. “We’re providing support for organizations where we live, and we’re trying to make communities better.”
The donations were part of the GCI Gives program, their corporate philanthropy program. The donations came under two different categories. The donation to Glory Hall was $1,000 to help support Glory Hall’s upcoming annual fundraiser, Empty Bowls.
“Every community has something different that is most important,” Handyside said. “They’re leveraging that money for an event or activity that pulls more people in.”
The donation to Juneau Youth Services was part of GCI’s efforts to donate to suicide prevention programs, which Handyside says GCI recognizes as a serious public health issue.
“We’re not experts in preventing suicides, but we partner with the Alaska Community Foundation,” Handyside said. The ACF helps to vet grant requests and direct the money where it’ll do the most good. “You tell me in your community what you need.”
Handyside said she tries to meet in person with the organizations GCI donates to as often as possible. She also said it lets GCI aid nonprofits more precisely.
“Every once in a while, you encounter someone who’s really sunny, like Mariya (Lovishchuk, executive director of the Glory Hall),” Handyside said. “That connection that got made today is really powerful. Gives me a window into what their needs might be in the future.”
Handyside said that while their grant window is fairly codified and opens in the fall, GCI maintains a reserve so that it can donate flexibly to organizations outside of the typical grant season. GCI have given more than $200,000 to Juneau-based organizations in the last few years, Handyside said. GCI has donated to Glory Hall, to local fishing derbies and the Juneau Economic Development Council in the past.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.