he Suquamish believe in being good hosts. So even before the tribe had money to donate to community organizations, its people shared what they had – salmon, knowledge and their culture.
Now, as a major employer with successful businesses that include the Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort, the tribe has also become a philanthropic powerhouse.
“It’s a continuation of that practice, giving out a piece of us and wanting to see something grow,” said Suquamish Foundation Executive Director Robin Sigo, ’96. “Kitsap has some incredible nonprofits doing amazing work. If we can plant the seeds and help water them so that they blossom even more to help our community get stronger, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
“It’s important we have an educated population and community so that we can keep open minds and look for creative ways to solve challenges we all face in this region.”
Since 2007, the tribe has donated $5.4 million to more than 250 organizations, including Olympic College. About 35 percent of contributions support education. Port Madison Enterprises, the tribe’s commercial arm, is a long-time sponsor of the OC Foundation’s Annual Community Luncheon.
“All of our tribal council members grew up in poverty and are now in the middle class,” said Sigo. When they look at funding requests, they think about who supported them during hard times. “Number one was teachers. When you found the right teacher, it was life changing and that’s why we fund lots of teacher-based initiatives.”
Sigo, an OC alum who earned a bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University and a master’s at the University of Washington, said the tribe supports OC because of its accessibility for tribal members and the community.
Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman agreed, saying the college serves a diverse cross-section of Kitsap and Mason counties, which is key to the area’s future. “It’s important we have an educated population and community so that we can keep open minds and look for creative ways to solve challenges we all face in this region.”