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Rural Alaska Community Action Program

  • Program Representative Interviewed: Patrick M. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer
  • Location: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Program Overview: The Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP) addresses a wide variety of community needs, focusing on providing education, administering local Head Start programs, community training and capacity building, housing and homeless services, and weatherization, among others. With a board of directors representing every region of the state, RurAL CAP is one of the largest and most diverse nonprofit organizations in Alaska.

    RurAL CAP addresses SDOH across Alaska, with a strong focus on education and community development. The Child Development Division of RurAL CAP administers 24 Head Start programs and 7 Early Head Start programs to provide comprehensive early childhood education. This Division also collaborates on research aimed at increasing access to healthy foods to address the rising rates of childhood obesity in rural Alaska. The Community Development Division operates 10 distinct programs and offers technical assistance with a focus on addressing different SDOH, including housing issues, increasing employment opportunities, and community capacity.

    Central to RurAL CAP's work is respect for the unique values and ways of life of rural Alaskans. Programs such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Strengthening Families project uses the Parents as Teachers research-based curriculum while including information about traditional parenting practices as suggested by community work groups (including elders), and a regional committee.

    AmeriCorps Resilient Alaska Youth — one of RurAL CAP's 10 community development programs — connects youth in remote tribal communities to their culture through meaningful relationships that build resiliency. The Elder Mentor program pairs elders who have low incomes with children in Head Start and school classrooms. Elders benefit from the mental and physical activity, while children benefit from individualized tutoring and positive role models. Many elders are also able to teach children the tribal language and traditional skills such as hunting or fishing. RurAL CAP's Supportive Housing and Planning and Construction Divisions work to address poverty through access to healthy, safe and affordable housing opportunities.

Models represented by this program: