The Alaska chapter of social services group Covenant House has received a seven-figure grant intended to help get homeless children off Alaska’s streets.

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield announced the $1 million grant to Covenant House Alaska on Thursday afternoon. The grant is the first phase of a planned $8 million the health care provider is spending on a five-year plan to address “behavioral health issues with a specific focus on homelessness” across the state.

“The Premera Social Impact grant supports CHA’s Rapid ReHousing program, which will move 30 youth, ages 18-24, from temporary shelters into apartments,” Premera officials wrote. “The program also provides employment, case management support and temporary rental assistance, while offering support services to help youth address behavioral health issues and navigate housing and employment systems.”

 
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Among speakers Thursday afternoon at a Covenant House Alaska ceremony announcing the grant, Gov. Bill Walker thanked Covenant House Alaska for its wide-ranging work on issues facing at-risk children.

"I look into this crowd and I see so many faces that are a part of helping young people in Alaska," Walker said. "I'm so moved by this very generous contribution and as you know, it will be used very carefully, very wisely -- it will bring returns beyond anyone's expectation."

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the grant was a prime example of public-private partnerships in fighting homelessness.

"When you address a wide-ranging issue like homelessness, you cannot do this with small ambition," Berkowitz said. "Covenant House is a unique effort here that is leading the way in getting efforts done."

Covenant House Alaska’s executive director, Alison Kear, said the agency is working to make youth homelessness “rare, brief and non-recurring.” Last year, a survey by the group showed that a quarter of the teens it assisted in Anchorage were victims of human trafficking.

“We are committed to preparing young people, some of whom have endured profound challenges, to become the best version of themselves and to take their place as productive, contributing community members,” Kear said in a statement Thursday.

Earlier this year, Premera said it was planning to invest an overall total of $50 million in Alaska, following unexpected federal tax breaks as a result of the GOP’s tax reform bill being passed last year.

More about the Premera Social Impact program is available in Premera’s annual report on community giving.

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