Alaska Native youth practice Native sports events in the Alaska Native Heritage event space.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center Receives Three-Year $3.3 Million Grant from the Department of Education (D.O.E)

Anchorage, Alaska, Feb. 14, 2022— The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) is pleased to announce that the Department of Education’s Alaska Native Education Program has awarded $3.3 million to support the Ilakucaraq Project, a partnership between ANHC, the Alaska Humanities Forum, and Mt. Edgecumbe High School that creates cultural connections between rural and urban Alaska Native high school students. 

A Yup’ik word meaning “being together,” Ilakucaraq will support 885 Alaska Native high school students from rural and urban regions in strengthening their connections with one another through networking via Ilakucaraq in-person immersion programs, virtual programming, a partnership with Mt. Edgecumbe High School, and statewide virtual workshops. In addition, 300 educators in Alaska will receive Cultural Awareness training in order to increase cultural competencies and develop culturally responsive teaching strategies.

Ilakucaraq is a transformative program that will impact Alaska Native youth across the state,” said ANHC President & CEO, Keneggnarkayaaggaq Emily Edenshaw. “We are excited to partner with the Alaska Humanities Forum and Mt. Edgecumbe High School to lead this important work for future generations.”  

The program’s vision is to strengthen Alaska Native students’ connection to their heritage by facilitating positive identity development and to increase Alaska Native student achievement by training educators in Cultural Awareness, Alaska Native history, and Cross-cultural Communications. ANHC has hired two full-time staff to ensure program success and goal completion over the three-year grant period.  

Alice Hisamoto, Cultural Programs Manager for the Ilakucaraq Project, is a long-time Alaskan of Japanese descent. She has many years of experience as a cross cultural educator, including working as a faculty member on previous ANEP grants at the University of Alaska campuses. In addition to teaching the “Multicultural Studies for Alaska’s Teachers” course, she has developed, facilitated, and assessed curriculum on culturally responsive teaching, cultural awareness, and diversity and inclusion. As Program Manager, Alice oversees the day-to-day operations of the Ilakucaraq Project and is responsible for the execution of the grant’s project goals and deliverables. Additionally, she creates and maintains community partnerships and organizes program protocols.

David Jorgensen serves as Program Coordinator. Jorgensen is Yup’ik and Danish with family ties based out of Alakanuk and Copenhagen, Denmark. He has previously worked at Southcentral Foundation’s RAISE Program as an Intern Supervisor. Jorgensen is passionate about making a positive impact on Alaska Native communities by serving as a positive role model for Alaska Native youth. In addition to supporting oversight of federal funds, David will also assist in identifying artists to contract for creation of the materials for ANHC’s culture boxes, as well as Culture Bearers to contract during the student immersions. 

For more information on the Ilakucaraq Project, please contact Alice Hisamoto at ahisamoto@alaskanative.net

About the Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization that preserves and strengthens the traditions, languages and art of Alaska’s Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration and education. It is located at 8800 Heritage Center Drive in northeast Anchorage, just off Muldoon Road North near Bartlett High School. For more information about other events and programs, visit www.alaskanative.net.