ANCHORAGE, AK – Residents of the village of Napaskiak will not have to worry about using increasingly expensive water and sewer service this year, thanks to a long-standing program underwritten by Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF), a Community Development Quota (CDQ) company responsible for creating economic development opportunities for residents of 20 western Alaska villages. CVRF created the Community Designated Fund Program (previously known as the CDQ Project Fund) in 2006 to enable its member communities to identify, prioritize and address problems specific to their residents.

“Within a region as large as ours, with as many people as we have in our villages, most communities have certain challenges that are unique, ones that cannot be addressed with ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions,” says Leila Smith, CVRF Community Program Coordinator. “The Designated Fund program is one way we tackle this. The program is valuable for our communities because it empowers local residents to address local issues in ways that fit the specific needs of their communities.”

“This project was important to us because we noticed that some people in our community had begun to haul water from the river to meet their families’ needs,” notes CVRF Board Member and Napaskiak resident Stephen Maxie. “The Tribal Council knew this activity would create sanitation issues if it continued, so we had to find a way to help our people before we had a bigger problem. The flexibility of the Community Designated Fund Program made it the right tool for us to meet this need.”

Under this program, organizations operating in each of CVRF’s 20 member communities are eligible to submit project ideas to a selection committee, who then review the projects to ensure compliance with CVRF’s basic guidelines. Communities are able to use these funds to support a wide range of projects and activities that they feel are important to their residents. CVRF provides guidance and oversight to ensure the funds are used in a responsible way, in accordance with spending plans submitted by local organizations and approved by CVRF.

Communities have historically used program funds in diverse ways, from supporting public safety needs by providing funding for wages, supplies and equipment for VPSOs to sponsoring celebrations and activities that bring communities together such as potlatches, village work days, public area renovation projects and July 4 events. Often communities use proceeds from this program to leverage grants from federal, state or other private sources. Communities also have the flexibility to work together and pool resources for a shared project or event.

“We are providing the means for organizations throughout our region to bring their creative ideas alive, play on one another’s strengths, and bring out the greatness that lives inside our everyday heroes,” says Jonathan Lewis, CVRF Community Service Manager from Chefornak, “This is one of many on-going programs that helps to bring our communities together and foster hope for the future in our region.”