Where: New Stuyahok, Alaska

Problem: The City of New Stuyahok lacked the financial statements required to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) grant.

Solution: Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) prepared the city’s financials and generated statements that met USDA RD requirements.

New Stuyahok is an Indigenous Alaskan Yup’ik village in the Dillingham Census Area, Alaska. The village is located 52 miles northeast of Dillingham on the Nushagak River and covers 33.7 square miles of land and two square miles of water. As a frontline community, it is highly vulnerable to climate change. The New Stuyahok Village is a federally recognized tribe, and the population of 570 is 96 percent Alaska Native or part Alaska Native. Almost all adults speak Yup’ik as their first language. The Russian Orthodox Church plays a prominent role in community life alongside Indigenous traditional spiritual beliefs and practices. The most common way to reach New Stuyahok is by air, but boat transport is also available from June to November. Households rely on fishing and subsistence activities to support their livelihoods, with occasional and seasonal employment outside the region. The village’s remoteness limits residents’ options for earning cash income. New Stuyahok has a median household income of $42,857 and a 26.6 percent poverty rate.

Solid waste management is a significant and longstanding concern for the City of New Stuyahok. Officials are faced with operating and managing the city’s Class III community landfill, the impact of landfill surface runoff and leachate on river water quality and the presence of toxic chemicals in abandoned landfills. To meet growing operational demands, the city applied for a grant under USDA RD’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to finance the purchase of additional heavy equipment and build a new cell at the landfill.

At the express request of USDA RD’s Alaska office, RCAC Rural Development Specialist (RDS) Dessa Wells began working with city officials on Jan. 27, 2022, to help prepare the financial statements required to access USDA grant funding. RCAC provides this technical assistance as part of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) Technitrain project, made possible by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

The City of New Stuyahok had previously not maintained financial records because it did not have dedicated accounting staff and resources. However, the current administration began tracking expenditures at the beginning of FY2021. Wells gathered all available data before contacting the city’s bank, which operates nationwide. Upon recovering the bank’s records, she manually organized the data and generated statements for each transaction.

To ease the village’s burden, USDA RD waived its requirement for three years of financial statements and accepted the financials presented. To date, New Stuyahok has received $45,000 in USDA grant funding, a portion of which the city must match. The landfill’s expansion will guarantee its continued operation for at least the next 20 years.