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GCI announces landmark donation for suicide prevention efforts


The Native Village of Paimiut and the Native Village of Tununak are recipients of a grant from GCI (General Communication Inc.) that supports suicide prevention and mental wellness.

General Communication Inc. (GCI), in partnership with the Alaska Community Foundation (ACF), announced on October 5th, 2016 that $100,000 will be awarded to nine organizations to support suicide prevention and promote mental wellness in Alaska. The organizations will receive grants from the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund, a grant program developed to help reduce Alaska’s suicide rate, the highest in the nation.

The Native Village of Paimiut received $15,000 for local leaders to attend a weeklong training seminar that will help them learn techniques for healing, creating safe environments, and nurturing healthy relationships. Local leaders will bring this training back to their community and help start the healing process for other Hooper Bay residents.

The Native Village of Tununak received $9,500 to develop a youth activities center to divert hopelessness, build self-esteem, and create a sense of belonging for teens. This program is being created through a partnership with the school, the village corporation, and the Tribe.

“With a rate twice the national average, suicide in Alaska has a devastating effect on our employees, their families, and communities across the state,” said Paul Landes, GCI senior vice president of consumer services. “We launched the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund as a way to provide funding for promising new programs and to help successful, established programs reach even more people.”

More than 40 organizations expressed interest in the initial application process, managed by The Alaska Community Foundation. After a competitive review process, nine programs were awarded grants, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. Selected programs include a wide range of prevention strategies across the state, from teaching traditional crafts to at-risk youth to expanding mental health initiatives from high schools to middle schools. Recipients joining Paimute and Tununak include: AK Child & Family, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Covenant House Alaska, Juneau Youth Services, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Perseverance Theater Inc., and Wellspring Revival Ministries.

Grant awards represent a mix of small and large organizations from across the Alaska and include a broad range of target audiences and tactics.

“Because the rate of suicide is unusually high in Alaska, we wanted to make sure that innovative, community-based programs were considered along with nationally recognized initiatives,” said Landes. “We are looking forward to following the progress as programs grown and develop over the next year.”

During National Suicide Prevention month in September, GCI provided free suicide prevention training to employees, promoted suicide prevention messaging on its social media platforms and has featured suicide prevention public services announcements more than 2,700 times on cable television channels across Alaska.

In 2015, GCI supported the Anchorage Rotary Suicide Prevention Project. The award-winning public awareness campaign moved the company to further its work in supporting suicide prevention in Alaska, resulting in this year’s grant program.

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