In August 2021, BSNC received its allocation of CARES Act funding of nearly $15 million from the U.S. Treasury. BSNC staff immediately sprang into action and worked long hours to quickly roll out BSNC’s CARES Act Direct Assistance Program (DAP) to provide cash assistance to eligible BSNC shareholders who shouldered extra expenses and/or loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BSNC worked in consultation with independent contractor Deborah (Debbie) J. Atuk to assess how to expend the funds in a manner that complied with the law and the U.S. Treasury’s strict spending requirements while meeting the needs of shareholders negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The program had a real, tangible and immensely positive impact on Our People and our region,” said BSNC President and CEO Gail R. Schubert. “Our mission—to improve the quality of life of Our People through economic development while protecting our land and preserving our culture and heritage—is what drives us. In pursuing this mission, BSNC made it a priority to help our shareholders financially address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank Debbie for her tireless work in leading this program, all of the staff who worked long hours and our shareholders for their support and involvement.”
“Joining the BSNC team to develop this program provided me with a window into the excellent team we have at BSNC,” said Debbie Atuk. “Virtually every department head of BSNC participated and contributed to the development and execution of this project. By being supportive in this way, it allowed us to keep the costs down and maximize the amount of funds available to the shareholders. The project was fast, intense and much needed. I am grateful that the Alaska Native corporations were able to win recognition as Tribes for the purpose of distribution of these emergency relief funds. We’ve heard first-hand accounts of just how meaningful these funds have been, and I am honored to have been able to be a part of this response. One other thing about this program – it gave the corporation an incredible opportunity to interact with shareholders. It is my understanding that there has never been higher participation. My hope for the corporation is that this means we will continue to have high-value interactions with shareholders and descendants going forward based on this work.”
The DAP was staffed with the support of the Shareholder Development Department, and 23 shareholders were hired to accept and process applications in Anchorage, Nome and all of the region’s villages. More than 73% of BSNC shareholders applied for and received CARES funding. Although BSNC had to work with a short timeframe to expend CARES funds, BSNC was able to successfully extinguish all its CARES funding through direct financial support to shareholders.
“The DAP was formatted to provide direct cash assistance to our BSNC shareholders who have experienced unexpected difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Vice President of Shareholder Development Lucille Sands. “Each shareholder’s needs differ, and with a direct cash relief program, shareholders were provided with the ability to make financial decisions regarding the use of funds that were best suited for their needs. This is thanks to the speed and conviction at which BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert and the BSNC Board steered the decision-making process for allocation of DAP funds in accordance with the U.S. Treasury guidelines. The Shareholder Development Department is honored to have served our shareholders by supporting the administration of the DAP with Debbie’s results-driven approach to leadership and commitment to program success.”