Revive Alaska claims to be backed by sponsors who disavow it

Seattle Mariners and AMVETS among those that say they’ve never supported the Anchorage nonprofit
Seattle Mariners and AMVETS among those that say they’ve never supported the Anchorage nonprofit.
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 2:05 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Alaska’s News Source investigation has found that the Anchorage nonprofit group Revive Alaska Community Services (RACS) has been claiming to be backed by corporate sponsors, though many of the alleged sponsors deny having any ties to it.

The list of purported sponsors includes an array of organizations, from AMVETS to the Seattle Mariners baseball organization.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit appears to be having financial troubles.

Last year, Revive’s president Prince Nwankudu purchased several properties through his limited liability corporation, GF Heritage, LLC. He acquired a vacant lot in the Independence Park community and promised to place up to 10 military barracks on it in order to shelter the unhoused.

But neighbors in the area protested, and RACS eventually scrapped the project and is now selling the land.

Alaska’s News Source found that Nwankudu owes back taxes on the property, with the bill now over $14,000. City administrators say they will begin the foreclosure process in a few weeks if taxes are not paid.

Through his corporation, Nwankudu also purchased a church building in Midtown, at the corner of MacInnes Street and Tudor Road, using some of the money the Anchorage Assembly appropriated to Revive Alaska through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which is intended to assist communities that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assembly members expected that money to be used to repair a damaged RACS food pantry in South Anchorage, but Nwankudu purchased the church instead.

The Assembly reports that the transaction is currently under federal investigation. The church property is back on the market as well. City administrators said the organization’s religious tax exemption status is being reviewed to ensure it is being used in accordance with exemption criteria.

The federal investigation into Revive began shortly after the Anchorage Assembly appropriated $750,000 in ARPA funds to the nonprofit last year. Though the Assembly believed the money would serve the needs of South Anchorage, further review found that someone within city administration changed the language of the grant to allow RACS the option to relocate the food pantry. Now, a section of the church in Midtown is currently being used as a temporary food pantry, open to the public on Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, RACS has been raising money by holding events, such as a fundraiser at the Anchorage Museum last November which featured dinner and a live auction to benefit struggling veterans. RACS has also been soliciting community councils throughout Anchorage, asking for their support to build an elaborate multimillion-dollar food pantry facility in South Anchorage.

Alaska’s News Source found Revive may not have as much support as it claims.

On its website, the nonprofit featured a list of companies it claimed sponsored the nonprofit. The page included logos of the Seattle Mariners, Alyeska Resort and AMVETS, among others, but when Alaska’s News Source began digging, reporters found that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“The Mariners are NOT now, and were NOT ever a corporate sponsor of Revive Alaska. Revive Alaska does not/did not have permission to use our name or marks,” Seattle Mariners Vice President of Marketing and Communications Tim Hevly said in an email.

When AMVETS was asked if they sponsored Revive Alaska, National Executive Director Joe Chenelly replied that it was “a definite no from us.”

President and CEO of production company Upper One Studios Rick Mallars replied in an email that his company doesn’t formally support Revive either.

“We aren’t a sponsor,” Mallars wrote. “They did reach out to us, but we were unable to assist. Not sure why our logo is on their website, but thanks for pointing it out! I will contact them and ask them kindly to remove our logo.”

The Federal Surplus Property program, which sold Revive the barracks, was also listed as a corporate sponsor. Alaska’s News Source emailed the Alaska Office of Procurement and Property Management to ask if that was true.

Federal Surplus Property Manager Scott Harrison wrote back that the company was not a sponsor.

“Nor were we aware that they were using (our) logo on their webpage as a sponsor,” Harrison said. “We will be contacting them to have that removed.”

Nnwankudu also listed his own church group — God’s Family Church — as a corporate sponsor.

The Alaska Veterans Museum says it did make a one-time cash donation to Revive of $1,000, but it is not considered a corporate sponsor.

Mr. Darryl’s Southern BBQ restaurant confirmed it does sponsor Revive Alaska and supports its work. Some of the other companies listed as sponsors did not return calls.

Shortly after Alaska’s News Source began looking into the sponsorship conflicts, Revive removed its corporate sponsorship page from its website. Revive has not responded to the latest requests for comment.