Commentary: Cordova Community Foundation meets 2019 fundraising goals

From left, Allen Roemhildt, Angela Butler and Jake Borst present Karen Hallquist with a $1,000 grant on behalf of the Cordova Community Foundation. (Jan. 31, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Cordova is known for being nonprofit strong, and with the close of 2019 it is one nonprofit stronger. The newly launched Cordova Community Foundation finished its first year by meeting its fundraising goals for 2019, receiving a total of $223,500 in donations! The Rasmuson Foundation will match the first $40,000 of that amount, bringing the CCF’s grantmaking and operating endowments to $263,500 — not bad for our first year.

“This is a gratifying long-term venture, one of giving back to the community that has given each of us so much,” said Michelle Hahn, advisory board member for the CCF. “It’s about having our endowment money working for us, by earning interest and compounding, to fund charitable projects now and far into the future.”

Hahn went on to add, “We presented our very first grants at the Iceworm Festival Variety Show, one to Debra Adams for the Cordova High School Close-up program and the other to Karen Hallquist with Mt. Eccles Elementary School to buy youth survival suits to assist in their water safety program. Soon we will be making more grants from the proceeds of the CCF endowment.”

“We’re really fired up about getting this fund going to help Cordova’s nonprofits meet our community’s needs,” said Rob Eckley, another CCF Advisory Board member. “We have an Advisory Board made up of community members, making the decisions about where the funding should go, and all the money being awarded can only be spent in Cordova. This is all driven locally!”

The Cordova Community Foundation is one of 11 affiliates that operate under the umbrella of the Alaska Community Foundation (ACF). In partnership with Rasmuson Foundation, ACF is working to catalyze philanthropy around the state. New affiliates, like CCF, that are successful in meeting their fundraising goals are eligible to receive up to $40,000 per year (for the initial two years) to augment their grantmaking and operating endowments.

One of last year’s donors, Cordova fisherman, Dan Hull, and his wife, Nancy Pease, explain the impulse behind their gift.

“We are grateful for our years in Cordova and thrilled to give back to the community by supporting the Cordova Community Foundation,” Hull said. “We want to help maintain and strengthen what makes Cordova special for future generations, and the Cordova Community Foundation provides the structure for doing just that.”

Hull credits Cordova with launching him on a lifetime of fishing and fisheries management involvement.

“What stood out for me back in the late 1980s is still true today: Cordova is an incredibly vibrant, creative and resourceful community,” he said.

We’ve got more work ahead of us for 2020, we’re working on raising at least another $40,000 to be able to capture this year’s matching funds pledged by the Rasmuson Foundation. People can help in many ways. We can accept gifts via check or credit card, gifts of appreciated stock (possibly creating a tax deduction), gifts of personal property (e.g. a car or a boat), and planned gifts, like life insurance policies or other annuities. Also, for folks over 70 ½ who need to make an IRA withdrawal, it may be advantageous to make a gift to the CCF, as people who must take an RMD can give directly to a nonprofit, which allows for tax benefits. If donors are interested in these types of complex gifts, CCF has a team of professional staff that can help.

We were honored to receive significant gifts from the Chugach Alaska Corporation, CTC and CWC, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, and other local businesses, as well as many generous individual donors. Thank you, Cordova, for making this such a successful first year for the Cordova Community Foundation!

Kristin Carpenter is the advisory board chair for Cordova Community Foundation. Reach her at