Bethel Community Services Foundation (the Foundation) is located in Bethel, Alaska. Bethel is the service and transportation hub of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska. Most residents of Bethel and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are Alaska Native and speak Yupik as a first language. There is no road connecting Bethel to urban areas of the state, nor do roads connect Bethel with the 56 villages it serves. Air travel, four-wheeler, snow machine, and boat are the methods of travel.
The Foundation was created in 1992 to manage the assets of, and contribute financial support for, the program of services offered through Bethel Community Services (BCS). BCS was founded in 1969 and introduced many human service programs to the Bethel community and the region. Among these were day care, children’s receiving home, City of Bethel community youth recreation program, residential mental health, substance abuse treatment, adult basic education, developmental disabilities, summer camp at a remote mining community, and early intervention services to infants and toddlers. The individuals and families served by BCS were predominantly Alaska Native.
Over the years as Bethel grew and developed many programs were transferred to state, university and other community organizations that were later established with these programs as part of their specific mission. In 2004, BCS elected to transfer its remaining early intervention and developmental disability programs to the regional Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC). YKHC is one of the twelve regional health corporations established under the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1974. BCS and YKHC agreed to this strategy to assist the state in maximizing federal reimbursement from Medicaid for services to Native people. Just about all of BCS’s 72 employees also transferred to YKHC. As a result, BCS elected to dissolve as a corporation. With the dissolution of BCS the Foundation elected to amend its articles of incorporation and bylaws to form a broader based community development and philanthropic organization.