C3: Creating Cultural Competence

Newly hired Alaska teachers participate alongside Elders, culture bearers, local youth, and peers in a cultural immersion and supportive gatherings under the structure of a university-level multicultural studies course.

Preparing teachers to serve and honor their new communities and students in rural Alaska

For thousands of years, Alaska Native communities have developed rich and varied traditions that encourage the values of Sharing and Cooperation, Respect for Others, Hard Work, Respect for Nature, Spirituality, and Humor.

Today, people in remote, rural Alaska constantly navigate the tension between sustaining their traditional culture and thriving in a changing world. The teachers who serve these communities are challenged to negotiate these tensions themselves, while adapting to a way of life that is unfamiliar, and discovering who they are within a new cultural context.

The Alaska Humanities Forum partners with communities, Alaska Native organizations, and school districts across three rural regions to provide the Creating Cultural Competence (C3) program. Newly hired teachers participate alongside Elders, culture bearers, local youth, and peers in a cultural immersion during the summer and supportive gatherings during the school year, all under the structure of a university-level multicultural studies course.


Amanda Dale

Director of Cross-Cultural Programs
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Kelly Forster

Education Program Manager
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Program Overview

Cross-cultural experience: Orientation, immersion, and a debrief process assist participants in gaining knowledge of the region as well as local communication, learning, and teaching styles.The C3 journey invites teachers not only to learn about the culture of the community they'll become a member of, but also to develop a deeper understanding of their own racial, ethnic, and cultural identities and how those identities shape their values and assumptions about teaching. Through the C3 program, teachers build relationships that help them connect with the people, communities, and region where they will be teaching.

  • Earn graduate credit: Free enrollment for teacher participants in multicultural studies course required for Alaska certification or renewal credits.
  • All expenses paid: Airfare to your new home community, program materials, and course credit are covered by the program.
  • Experiential Learning: Cultural immersion experience with local Elders, youth and community members (virtual in 2022).

Program Regions and Partners

North Slope Region: Download Brochure
Partners: Arctic Slope Community Foundation, North Slope Borough School District, Iḷisaġvik College

Northwest Arctic Region: Download Brochure
Partners: Maniilaq Association, Northwest Arctic Borough School District


Educators must be:

  • New to one of the school districts listed above.
  • Available to attend programming during spring semester 2022, both online and in-person, including enrolling in a 3-credit Multicultural Studies for Alaska’s Teachers course and attending gatherings during Spring Break (NWA) and in mid-May (NS).

Program Impact

A 2017 five-year study shows a significant impact:

C3 Preparing Teachers To Serve
  • Twice as many C3 teachers chose to stay in Lower Kuskokwim School District compared to non-C3 teachers; in NWABSD, 1.7 times as many C3 teachers chose to stay compared to non-C3 teachers.
  • The C3 induction model becomes cost effective by year 2 or 3, depending on the scale of teacher replacement in a district.
  • Increasing cultural competency, as the C3 Project does, increases teachers' grit and growth mindsets.

See the "5 Year Evaluation Report" to learn more about the full study.

C3 is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Alaska Native Education Program.

Advice for teachers.

Photos from the 2022 North Slope Cultural Immersion 

AKHF: Celebrating 50 Years!

The Alaska Humanities Forum is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that designs and facilitates experiences to bridge distance and difference – programming that shares and preserves the stories of people and places across our vast state, and explores what it means to be Alaskan.

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