Anchorage nonprofit’s use of federal money scrutinized

Revive Alaska Community Services claims funds used to purchase grocery cards for school districts
Anchorage nonprofit's use of federal money scrutinized
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 5:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Questions are surfacing regarding an Anchorage nonprofit’s use of federal tax dollars after the municipality released a report on how those funds were utilized.

Revive Alaska Community Services (RACS) is a local nonprofit organization that received three-quarters of a million dollars in COVID-19 relief money back in 2021. RACS told the Anchorage Assembly the money would be used to repair a food pantry in South Anchorage, but they purchased a church in Midtown instead.

In 2021, the Municipality of Anchorage received $103 million in federal dollars as part of a program called ARPA — which stands for the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA was designed to help businesses and nonprofits recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

RACS received $750,000 dollars of that ARPA money. According to federal guidelines, that money needs to be tracked and accounted for — and each recipient must also prove the funding was used for their intended goals.

RACS recently provided an updated report to the city, indicating how it spent that money.

In the report, the group claims it, “(served) 50 families per week, distributing approximately 1,500 pounds of food monthly to Anchorage residents,” and goes on to state, “We have also come alongside Alaska School Districts to support the Child in Transition (CIT) Program during this COVID-19 crisis with grocery gift cards.”

Upon contacting the Anchorage School District, it was learned that RACS contacted them by email in 2020 and provided the district with 10 gift cards. Officials say since that time they haven’t received a single one.

“That was our first awareness that Revive was involved. We had no communication or contact with them prior, and we haven’t had any communication or contact with them since the gift cards were given to us,” Anchorage School District Chief Communications Director MJ Thim said.

“The next time that we were — became aware of the organization was through your investigative reporting. We haven’t had any contact with them since 2020.”

The information appears to contradict what RACS reported to the municipality since it did not provide assistance to the Anchorage School District in the years 2021 or 2022.

It is not known if RACS donated any gift cards to other school districts. Donations that include grocery cards have little to do with the reason RACS was awarded the grant money to begin with since the purpose was to build a food pantry.

Attempts to contact RACS for comment were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, as previously reported, the U.S. Treasury Department continues to investigate RACS’s use of the ARPA funds.