Few large foundations support "the general good" or social service projects in Alaska, so the Last Frontier has a pretty thin philanthropic layer, according to United Way of Anchorage Vice President Cassandra Stalzer. However, the oil and gas industry has a history of stepping in and filling the gaps in Alaska communities by providing money and volunteers for myriad charitable efforts in the state.
Because Alaska is a relatively young state with a small population, it relies on the philanthropy of industry more heavily than other states, especially the oil and gas industry, Stalzer says.
The oil and gas industry is a pillar of economic power in Alaska, providing jobs, tax revenue, and charity dollars in the state, according to Alaska Oil and Gas Association President and CEO Kara Moriarty.
"Alaska's oil and gas companies are proud to contribute to Alaska's economy and quality of life.
"When our industry thrives, our state benefits in many ways, from funding essential services to employing Alaskans to contributing to the health of the Permanent Fund," Moriarty says. "As the data shows, Alaska's oil and gas industry remains the single most important economic engine in the state, and we are proud of the work we do to benefit all Alaskans."
The Alaska oil and gas industry, including multiplier effects, accounted for 77,600 jobs and $4.8 billion in wages, according to a recent McDowell Group study commissioned by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. In addition to wages, the industry paid $3.1 billion in state and local taxes and royalties in FY2019, including $2.7 billion to state government and $449 million to local governments, the report states.
The impact of the oil and gas industry goes beyond employment and spending; many companies commit to supporting Alaskans through philanthropic efforts, from BP recognizing almost 800 extraordinary Alaskan educators with its BP Teachers of Excellence Program to ConocoPhillips Alaska investing a total of $2.6 million in Covenant House since 1983--the importance of the industry to the overall wellbeing of Alaska's communities is clear and quantifiable.
ConocoPhillips in the Community
ConocoPhillips Alaska has, on average, contributed about $6.7 million annually to causes in Alaska since 2000, according to the company's Community Investment Advisor Jennifer Rose.
"We are honored to have invested millions of dollars in our state through nonprofit contributions over the years," Rose says. "We have built strong relationships with hundreds of organizations in Alaska. The impact has been significant."
The pillars of philanthropy that guide ConocoPhillips Alaska's giving efforts are education and youth, health and safety, natural resources, and others, such as civic programs, social services, and the arts.
Much of this giving is done through the company's annual community grants.
"Alaska is very unique for ConocoPhillips Alaska community investment. We do have a really strong focus on the communities where we live, work, and operate," Rose says. "We are Alaskans who review all the grant requests that come in. We keep our ear to the ground to understand what the community needs."
The three-person community investment team reviews about 500 grant applications every year. The applications are received during May, June, and July through the company's online portal. Once received, the applications are run through a rigorous, five-month evaluation process.
"We put together a budget and we submit that to corporate, where it gets reviewed by all of our leadership team," Rose says. "We find out in December how much we're able...