AFN Navigation Program helps Alaska Natives apply for post-pandemic grants

AFN Navigation Program helps Alaska Natives apply for post-pandemic grants
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:01 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska tribes, tribal organizations and Alaska Native Corporations all have the opportunity to apply for post-pandemic infrastructure grants.

It’s giving native communities an opportunity that is once in a life time, and the AFN Navigator Program is here to help.

“We’re tracking all of the major post-pandemic legislation, in addition to the regular appropriation spending bills,” Navigator Program Manager Nicole Borromeo said.

“We are then analyzing those programs for applicability. When eligibility is determined, we then contact the tribes, tribal organizations, native corporations and we then let them know that there is a grant opportunity out there.”

Messages from the federal government do not always reach rural Alaskans. These are places that might not have reliable internet, or internet that’s readily available. Some communities are still trying to recover from the storms that hit Western Alaska last month, as well as the challenges that come with winter.

That’s where Borroemeo and her team of Navigators come in.

“This is a great opportunity with the funding for the tribes to be connected by Wi-fi, internet, access to healthcare, access to education, access to funding,” said Regional Navigator for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Mary Kenick.

Even when there are eligible recipients for grants, it can be hard to contact those in rural areas.

“We have to be able to keep calling and keep emailing, because we understand that Tribal Administrators are also the basketball coach, and they might open and run the general store, and that they have a family of their own,” Borromeo said.

Navigators are even able to travel to some tribes to help them to apply for the needed programs.

“We continue to see certain tribes not applying for programs over and over again, and we have the time in this cycle to really deploy our navigators to those regions,” Borromeo said.

Through doing this, they can build relationships with tribal members and tribal administrators in order to be included in the programs that provide post-pandemic recovery assistance into the future.

“It brings resources back to the communities that need them the most,” Kenick said.

“Without our assistance, most of the communities would not be aware of the funding opportunities,” Borromeo said.

The program says this year’s offerings include additional one-time funding, and there’s a variety of different grants that the tribes are able to apply for.

Its all-in an effort to bring that funding back home where it’s needed and to get those in need back on their feet.

“It will open up a lot of doors,” Kenick said.

More information about the Navigator program can be found on the Alaska Federation of Natives website.