On Friday, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s Education Foundation sold more than $6.48 million worth of mining shares donated by Rio Tinto. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has details on how the Foundation will make use of the windfall.
In early March, mining company Rio Tinto gave away its shares in Northern Dynasty Minerals, owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership. One of the recipients of this gift was the Educational Foundation of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. Executive Director Greta Goto says the foundation provides several types of scholarships to the Corporation’s shareholders.
"Our foundation supports three types of scholarship programs. The first is a higher education scholarship. The second is a vocational education scholarship and when you combine those two it's called the HEVE program, and it's been around for a number of years. The other program is a short-term vocational education certification type program and that particular program helps our shareholders achieve specialized certifications for training in order to enhance their career or employment opportunities."
On Friday, the Foundation sold all of its Rio Tinto shares, netting a profit of $6.48 million. Goto says the proceeds will allow it to offer scholarships to even more individuals.
"Over the years we've been seeing an increasing number of applications for both the HEVE scholarship program as well as the short-term certification program, so this increase in funds will be able to help us meet this increasing need. Over the years, occupations that require higher levels of education, greater than high school, have been increasing. The scholarship funds that we'll be able to utilize to help with training is going to be of benefit."
While recipients seek jobs both in and out of Bristol Bay, Goto notes that additional scholarships will make it possible to address the increased openings in the fishing industry.
"I think it's interesting to note there's a number of jobs that are available in the region with regard to construction-type projects, fisheries-related. We've had an increasing number this year in particular of shareholders asking for training in able-bodied seaman certifications, so I'm hopeful that there'll be increasing opportunities in the region for realization of these funds."
BBNC’s Educational Foundation supports over 8000 native shareholders within the Bristol Bay area, while the Corporation dates back to the Alaska Native Claims and Settlements Act of 1971