What is now known as Nine Star Education & Employment Services was founded in 1976 by former CEO David S. Alexander and John and Linda Hulbert. Nine Star began as a broad-based training institution. During its early years, Nine Star was known as The Northern Institute, and prior to that was the Alaska Center for Staff Development, a part of the Alaska Commission of Postsecondary Education under the Alaska Department of Education.
In 1978, then Alaska Attorney General Avrum Gross handed down the decision that Nine Star’s services were better left to the private sector. Nine Star’s predecessor then split from the Commission, became a private non-profit corporation, and eventually merged with another non-profit, the Social Intermediate Technology Assistance Corporation (SITACOR), Inc. The merged entity’s name was officially changed to Nine Star Enterprises, Inc. in 1988.
Growth initiates change—and how Nine Star has changed! Its first offices were located on the campus of the Alaska Pacific University. In December of 1994, Nine Star completed the final paperwork to take possession of its own building in what is now referred to as its Downtown Headquarters Building at 125 West Fifth Avenue.
In recent years, Nine Star has established offices at seven sites throughout the Southeast Alaska—Mountain View, Midtown, four offices Downtown Anchorage, and the newest outreach in Wasilla.
Nine Star’s growth is reflected in its budgets. From an annual budget of $665,000 in 1993 Nine Star’s current annual budget has grown to where it now stands at $7 million. Nine Star’s reputation for operating quality programs has kept pace with its financial success. While not all grants can be identified in the limited space allowed here, the following may well be considered milestones in Nine Star’s growth.
1994 – AmAK Literacy Project (Corporation for National & Community Service) allowed Nine Star to teach literacy and work readiness in Anchorage and outlying communities by assigning and coordinating the services of AmeriCorps Members.
1997 – Work Search Program (Alaska Division of Public Assistance) was the first program operated in close conjunction with the DPA to provide preemployment and work readiness skills to public assistance recipients. The Work Search Program evolved into the Work Services Program. July 2013
1999 – Post-Employment Training Program (US Department of Labor) offered training to employed public assistance recipients and served as the impetus for opening the Anchorage Job Center-Muldoon.
2000 – Regional Adult Education Program (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development) makes it possible to offer education services (basic education, GED preparation, and English as a Second Language) to youth and adults. The Regional Adult Education Program is anchored by the GED Testing Center and includes partners Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Anchorage Literacy Project, Covenant House- Alaska, Alaska Military Youth Academy, and McLaughlin Youth Center High School (ASD).
2001 – Work Services Program (Alaska Division of Public Assistance), an outgrowth of the Welfare to Work Search Program, in which Nine Star in providing case management services to public assistance recipients referred by the Alaska Division of Public Assistance.
2001 – Senior Community Service Employment Program (later renamed the Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training—MASST Program) (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development) which offers part-time subsidized employment (skills training) leading to unsubsidized employment to income-eligible seniors aged 55 or over. In 2012, this program was housed back at the Alaska Department of Labor.
2001 – Youth Education and Employment Services Program (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development) which provides assessment, skills upgrade activities, academic counseling, and career counseling to in-school and out-of-school youth needing assistance in improving their performance in an academic program, who are in an independent living status and in need of work or high school completion, or are unemployed or want to upgrade their work readiness and occupational skills. Occupational skills development includes computer skills training and for in-school youth as well as after-school and summer employment.
2002 – Nine Star’s AmeriCorps Program Began Nine Star began acting as an AmeriCorps intermediary for the express purpose of community resource sharing and holistic, wrap around services to at-risk youth, youth & adults with disabilities, families on public assistance, Alaska natives, ex-offenders (youth & adults), Alaskans whose first language is not English, refugees, low-income and unemployed youth & adults, residents of low income neighborhoods. AmeriCorps Members enrich the serves offered, and help change the lives of clients served both at Nine Star and at partner agencies.
2004 – TAG Program in Fairview In conjunction with the “No Child Left Behind Act” Nine Star started a program to help tutor children in third and fourth grade. This program closed due to funding after a year of operation.
2006 – ESL adds beginner classes Due to an influx of beginner English learners to Anchorage the ESL department expanded to include additional classes that would accommodate their learning needs.
2009 – Gold Pan Awardee President David Alexander wins the 2009 Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
2010 – Returning Citizens’ Center Opens Growing out of a need to serve Alaskans who have recently been released from incarceration, the Returning Citizens’ Center (RCC) opens its doors. The RCC provides an open-to-the-public computer lab for job search, helps with July 2013 resume development, and provides daily workshops on employment. This center is run by AmeriCorps Members.
2011 – 730 I Street Site Opens While expanding reach and seeking to be client-centric Nine Star centralized the following programs into one site: administrative offices, adult basic education, English as a second language, high school completion program, and youth employment program.
2012 – 4th and Barrow Site Opens Moving out of “The Annex” Nine Star need a downtown location for the Career Development Center for their ATAP clients.
2013 – Youth Education and Employment Services Program (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development) added an extension in Wasilla. Joining forces with another Alaska non-profit, My House. This is Nine Star’s first Mat-Su outreach.
2013 – RCC Expands Joined forces with two Anchorage non-profits (Partners for Progress and Alaska Native Justice Center) to create a one-stop center serving individuals with backgrounds. This Partners Reentry Center helps program participants get housing. The RCC duplicated its services at this location to serve program participants.