In a quiet corner of BBNC’s headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska, a small team is changing lives for shareholders and descendants around the world. This group is the BBNC Education Foundation, a non-profit with the goals of supporting and encouraging shareholders to pursue educational opportunities, as well as promoting and preserving cultural heritage. The foundation’s team of dedicated employees comprises Aleesha Towns-Bain, Executive Director; Angela Peacock, Program Manager for Education; Ricardo Lopez, Program Officer for Cultural Heritage; Adrianne Neketa, Administrative Assistant; and Mary Sherbick, Program Assistant.
The organization’s vision is for shareholders to reach their full potential, assume key roles, direct the corporation’s future and ensure success for the future through financial support for education and training, along with projects that promote and preserve the region’s cultures.
The foundation was established in 1986, and since then has awarded 3,121 scholarships worth a total of $4.7 million. Over the past six years, more than 300 scholarship recipients have graduated with bachelors, masters, and other advanced degrees in anthropology, medicine, veterinary medicine, law, engineering, business administration/management and education. This year, the foundation awarded funds to 142 scholars and dozens of vocational students, which will help them become future leaders in BBNC’s businesses, communities, region and state.
While the Education Foundation serves shareholders of all ages, the team has begun outreach with the social media outlets embraced by the younger generation: Facebook and Instagram! Each month, they host an “Intern Takeover” that features students and their day-to-day lives. “This gives people a sense of the lives of our college students, and some recent alumni,” said Aleesha Towns-Bain, Executive Director for the foundation. “Our students are amazing, and I am always impressed with the passion for their work and giving back to communities.”
The organization recently added cultural, language and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to their roster of services. These, along with everything the foundation offers shareholders, is the result of support from BBNC, individuals, and the program’s education endowment. Employees from BBNC and its businesses also provide support, with annual and ongoing donations. “You can make a single gift, or sign up for a recurring donations.” Said Towns-Bain. “An annual gift of $500 is enough to help one of our vocational training students attend their program. A gift of $250 can help pay for a college credit hour. Even $50 can offset the cost of a book for graduate student. Every little bit helps.”
The foundation makes it easy though with a paycheck deduction option that withdraws a set amount monthly, and a significant number of staff take advantage of this pre-tax option.
The Education Foundation has gone through significant changes recently, with increasing its roster of programs, expanding and providing ongoing core services, and Towns-Bain says that prospects are bright. “We see a strong connection and thread through our work –by by building on who we are as individuals, we’ll be better equipped to succeed in our schooling and careers,” she said. “This is one of the ways that we support and encourage the next generation of our shareholders – they are the future.”