State-sponsored raffle for public schools generates almost $1M in first year

Sen. Click Bishop, speaks in the Senate Finance Committee, Feb. 20, 2019. Bishop introduced the Alaska Permanent Fund Education Raffle, which was signed into law in 2018. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Nearly a million dollars was raised in a state-sponsored raffle designed to benefit K-12 schools.

Last year, the state established the program, allowing Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividends to the raffle. The raffle generated $976,400, and 75 percent of that — $732,300 — will go to schools.

Fairbanks Republican Senator Click Bishop introduced the legislation last year, “to try to bring a little bit of certainty to public education funding and to help look at alternative ways for raising new revenue for education.”

Bishop says he’s pleasantly surprised with the results of the raffle. The money is divvied up with 50 percent going into the state education department budget, and 25 percent going into an education endowment fund. The remaining 25 percent is used for a raffle fund and this year’s prizes — there will be four winners:

  • 1st place: $19,528
  • 2nd place: $9,764
  • 3rd place: $4,882
  • 4th place: $2,441

Bishop says he hopes the money generated from the raffle can be used by districts for programs such as pre-K and other early learning programs.

“We all know that the most formative years for young people is in their first three and four years,” Bishop said. “And if we can start getting those kids some instructional knowledge at those early formative years, it’ll make them more proficient in reading when they hit grades three and four.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed budget cuts to public education in the state that total just over $300 million. The money generated from the raffle is a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Bishop says he’s hopeful the education raffle will grow in popularity.

“If I was the governor, I’d have a TV camera there when we pull the winners and have that publicized,” Bishop said. “And when that word gets out and you pull a winner, I think it’ll catch fire.”

Bishop says his office doesn’t have the numbers for how many people participated statewide in the raffle.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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