• Announcing the virtual Summer Seminar 2020

    21 May 2020

    Dear Friends of Outer Coast,

    After much consideration, we have concluded that we will not be able to run the 2020 Summer Seminar in-person in Sitka as originally conceived. This was a difficult decision to make, but protecting the health and safety of Outer Coast students, staffulty, and the community of Sitka makes it the right one.

    Instead we will be offering a virtual model of the 2020 Summer Seminar, created in cooperation with our alumni and staffulty.

    And we are still accepting student applications!

    Now that students will be able to participate from home, we are reopening the application for the Summer Seminar. We hope to fill our few remaining spots as quickly as possible. The application deadline is Sunday, May 31, 2020.


  • Fall Semester application closes May 15

    09 May 2020

    The deadline to apply for the Fall Semester or both semesters of the Outer Coast Year is fast approaching! If you are a student who wants to enroll in the Outer Coast Year this fall, make sure you submit your application by 11:59pm Alaska Daylight Time on Friday, May 15.


  • Outer Coast Year staff openings and student application deadline

    01 May 2020

    As the academic year wraps up (in a way none of us could have imagined), students around the world are wondering what‘s next and when school will “go back to normal.” We too wish we knew. Like many institutions, we’re preparing for the 2020–21 academic year with careful consideration and optimism.


  • Application for the Summer Seminar closes on April 1

    29 March 2020

    The deadline to apply for the 2020 Outer Coast Summer Seminar is fast approaching!

    If you are planning to apply, make sure to submit your application by Wednesday, April 1 at 11:59pm AKDT.


  • What Outer Coast is doing through COVID-19

    26 March 2020

    Dear Friends of Outer Coast,

    COVID-19 is in our communities and on all our minds. We at Outer Coast hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy in this challenging time. We are monitoring COVID-19 developments closely and working to understand the implications for future Outer Coast programs. At this point, we have determined that it is too early to make a call on the Summer Seminar and will continue in our preparations. If there are any changes to our plans, we will share updates immediately.

    We have finalized our faculty and course offerings for the Summer Seminar and have an exceptional slate:


  • Outer Coast Year Early Application deadline this Saturday

    27 February 2020

    The Outer Coast Year is our first postsecondary program, based on the pillars of intellectual inquiry, meaningful service and labor in the community, and student self-governance. Graduating high school seniors and recent high school graduates (including GED holders) who apply to the Outer Coast Year by this Saturday, February 29, will receive an admission decision by March 31, 2020. Students who apply after February 29 will receive an admission decision by June 1, 2020.

    Interested students may apply online or print a mail-in application at


  • Outer Coast is selecting Fellows for 2020-2021!

    22 February 2020

    We’re growing! Outer Coast has already taken many steps on our path to founding a two-year, liberal arts college in Sitka, Alaska that inspires students to create virtuous change in their own lives and in the world, but there’s much more work to be done!

    If you are interested in becoming part of this effort and making significant contributions to our vision and future programs, apply to join our team through the Alaska Fellows Program.


  • Apply to be part of the Outer Coast Year!

    04 February 2020

    It’s official! Outer Coast just crossed two major milestones.

    This past week, we opened the application for the Outer Coast Year — an academic year program for high school graduates!

    And in early January, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education approved Initial Authorization for Outer Coast to host educational programs for high school graduates — clearing a major hurdle on the way to launching the college!


  • 2020 Summer Seminar Applications — for students and staff — are live!

    01 January 2020

    ​The Outer Coast Summer Seminar application is now open!

    Program Dates: June 27 – August 1, 2020

    Location: Sitka, AK

    Current high school sophomores and juniors are invited to apply online or by mail.

    Applications submitted by January 31, 2020 will receive admissions decisions by February 15.

    The final application deadline is April 1, 2020.


  • Outer Coast is hiring faculty for upcoming programs!

    19 November 2019

    Exciting things are in the works here at Outer Coast!

    We’re now recruiting faculty for both the upcoming Summer Seminar and the Outer Coast Year.


  • A retrospective from the 2019 Student Body

    11 November 2019

    Letter from the 2019 Student Body

    By: Carmen Simons, Kayla Reifel, Kira Fagerstrom, Mavi Çelebi

    Firstly, the 2019 Outer Coast Student Body would like to say gunalchéesh tlein! Thank you to everyone who brought us together in Sitka and helped make the Summer Seminar possible. This yearʼs Student Body hailed from all corners of Alaska, the US, and the globe. Our 23 members brought together innovative ideas of social change, unique worldviews, and a wide range of languages to help create the journey that was the 2019 Summer Seminar. What follows are our reflections about what we learned, gained, and how we grew throughout the summer. We hope you all enjoy the Student Body’s (the “SB’s”) firsthand account of our experience at the 2019 Outer Coast Summer Seminar, and remember, Roll Coast, Baby!


  • What's next at Outer Coast - the twists and turns of future planning

    05 November 2019

    Since early September, we have been in conversation with the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE), pursuing the Alaska higher ed holy grail: Initial Authorization — a regulatory prerequisite to run any postsecondary program, including the Outer Coast Semester. We learned recently that this process cannot be completed before ACPE’s January meeting, and we will now wait to offer academic-year programming until Fall 2020.

    We see this circumstance as disappointing but not discouraging, as it provides an opportunity to refocus our energies. Namely, we have the capacity to commit today to offer two Outer Coast programs in 2020: the Outer Coast Summer Seminar and, from Fall 2020 through Spring 2021, the Outer Coast Year.


  • Announcing the Outer Coast Semester!

    10 August 2019

    Last Saturday, the 2019 Outer Coast Summer Seminar officially came to a close. After an incredible five weeks of hard work building trails, relationships, community, and much more, the students said their goodbyes (for now).


  • The 2019 Summer Seminar is Live!

    19 July 2019

    At the start of the month, the second Outer Coast Summer Seminar kicked off with 23 rising high school juniors and seniors.


  • Introducing the 2019 Outer Coast Summer Seminar Student Body!

    29 May 2019

    They’re coming! From down the street and around the globe, the student body of the 2019 Outer Coast Summer Seminar will arrive in Sitka at the end of June. We can’t wait for them to be here.


  • 2019 Summer Seminar Course Offerings

    20 February 2019

    We have 2019 Summer Seminar faculty and courses! Three, in fact.


  • Outer Coast announces its Board of Advisors + new application deadline for Summer Seminar

    14 February 2019

    We’re extending the Summer Seminar application deadline to February 22.


  • Summer Seminar Applications are Live!

    16 January 2019

    The Outer Coast Summer Seminar Application is now open!


  • Final Update of 2018

    29 December 2018

    Before we close out the year, we have one more thing to share with you: the latest draft of the Outer Coast prospectus – what we are calling version 8.3.


  • 501(c)(3) Status and Other Annoucements

    26 September 2018

    After what was truly an amazing summer, the Outer Coast team convened in Sitka earlier this month to take stock of where we are and make plans for the coming year.


  • The First Student Body Reflects on the Summer Seminar

    17 September 2018

    The inaugural Outer Coast Summer Seminar came to an emotional close on August 4. We, the first Outer Coast students ever, wanted to give you some insight into what our lives were like during our month in Sitka and just how extraordinary this program is.


  • Launching the Summer Seminar

    09 June 2018

    The inaugural Outer Coast Summer Seminar is less than a month away. On July 6th, a passionate, curious, and diverse cohort of exceptional high school students from around Alaska and across the country will arrive in Sitka.

    Over four weeks, students will spend mornings immersed in a college-level seminar, Perspectives on Freedom, Authority, and Polarization. Afternoons will find them beating back brush on the local trail system and re-siding an outbuilding on the historic Sheldon Jackson campus. In the evenings, they will study, host guest speakers, and determine how to live together through the practice of self-governance.


  • Join the Outer Coast Team!

    30 April 2018

    Outer Coast is hiring!

    Looking for a summer opportunity in Sitka? We are looking for two bright, self-directed, and mission-aligned individuals to join the Outer Coast team via the Alaska Fellows Program beginning this September:

    The Development and Administration Fellow is a primary collaborator on the Outer Coast team and works directly with the Development and Administration Associate. The Program and Operations Fellow assists and works with the Program and Operations Associate on all aspects of the project relating to operations and programming.

    Both fellows work on Outer Coast as part of the Alaska Fellows Program, a nine-month postgraduate fellowship program that places recent college graduates with organizations across Alaska, in Sitka, Anchorage, and Juneau. The Outer Coast Fellows are based in Sitka, where they live in community with other fellows who serve a variety of organizations in the Sitka community.


  • Summer Seminar – Student Application, Course Description, and Staff Openings

    27 March 2018

    Are you a high school sophomore or junior interested in the Summer Seminar? Or know someone who fits that description?

    You’re in luck.

    We received a bevy of applications from around Alaska and the Lower 48 and given additional inquiries about being able to apply for those who learned about the Summer Seminar in just the last few days, we are extending the deadline to 11:59 p.m. AKDT Saturday, March 31.

    Apply for the 2018 Summer Seminar


  • Summer Seminar – Student Application, Course Description, and Staff Openings

    27 February 2018

    “How do I apply for the Summer Seminar?” “What kind of course will be taught?” Two questions that have kept us busy for the last couple months as we finalized our Program Overview, went through draft upon draft of the student application, and interviewed a handful of brilliant and insightful faculty applicants.

    We have some exciting news. Really. The core team is dancing with elation.

    We have answers to these questions! Moreover, we are thrilled to share the following announcements with you:


  • Unveiling the project prospectus (and other updates)

    03 February 2018

    For our first update of the new year, we have a lot that’s new to share.

    We are launching a Summer Seminar for high school students from Alaska and beyond.

    We have expanded our team and are bearing down on all manner of work, from preparing our 1023 for final submission to the IRS for nonprofit determination to developing our logo and branding with a wonderful Juneau-based artist.

    We have been developing a recruitment network to identify promising Alaska high school students, liaising with dynamo educators and recent high school grads across Alaska, from Nuiqsut just off the Arctic Ocean, to Metlakatla on the Southeast Alaska-Canada border, to Unalaska on the Aleutian chain, and literally hundreds of others from communities big and small.

    But what we most want to share is a working draft — the latest of many (internally, it’s version 8.2, to give an idea) — of our project prospectus.


  • Outer Coast in The Economist

    22 December 2017

    ​Outer Coast is in the news! This year’s Christmas issue of The Economist has an exciting piece on Outer Coast and Deep Springs College, which highlights some of the similarities and differences between our models and approaches.

    We think the article gets a lot of things right, but there’s one thing we’d like to make absolutely clear: we intend to meet the full financial need of all Outer Coast students, whether they hail from Alaska Native communities, the state of Alaska, the Lower 48, or around the world.

    Deep minds: An alternative college education

    Your support will help us make that vision a reality for the Outer Coast Summer Seminar in July 2018, and we’d be thrilled if you can contribute today.


  • Outer Coast Summer Seminar

    17 December 2017

    Dear friend,

    The next big thing is here, and it’s not self-driving cars or tax reform. It’s the inaugural Outer Coast Summer Seminar.

    In exactly 200 days, as Southeast Alaska’s salmon start to fight their way up their natal streams to spawn, 12 high school students from Alaska and around the country will arrive by plane, ferry, and foot in Sitka for our 2018 Summer Seminar.

    For four chock-full weeks, students will spend mornings immersed in a fast-paced, college-level discussion-based seminar; afternoons will find them tackling service work from assisting resource management agencies to restoring salmon habitat to beating back brush and other maintenance work on the local trail system; and in the evenings, they will study, host guest speakers, and experience the joys and hair-ripping frustrations of self-governance.

    Sounds like a dream, right? But for a dozen curious, adventurous students, it will be real.

    The 2018 Summer Seminar is a critical step along the path of realizing our vision of Outer Coast as a thriving institution of higher education in Sitka, Alaska.

    The mission of Outer Coast is audacious: to prepare its students to make virtuous change in a world that, with every passing, tumultuous day needs it ever more. The 2018 Summer Seminar will allow us to test, refine, and further explore how to do this best.

    Please invest in the launch of the Summer Seminar. Your contribution, matched by larger gifts, will help us raise the $80,000 we need to secure student housing and classrooms, pay faculty and program staff, provide financial aid to all students who need it, and take this important step to opening the college.


    (Our generous partners at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under their parent organization, Alaska Arts Southeast, are our fiscal sponsors (EIN: 23-7240278). All contributions made by check are tax deductible.)


  • A Heads of Say What?

    20 November 2017

    We have a heads of agreement!

    A heads of say what?

    Yes, a heads of agreement, with Sitka Fine Arts Camp, owners and custodians of the Sitka Fine Arts Campus, née, Sheldon Jackson Campus, and our close partners in the Outer Coast project.

    But back to “heads of agreement” (HOA). Investopedia: “A non-binding document outlining the main issues relevant to a tentative partnership agreement. Heads of agreement represents the first step on the path to a full legally binding agreement or contract, and serves as a guideline for the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in a potential partnership before any binding documents are drawn up.”

    We’re excited about the HOA and the pathway it represents.


  • Aurora Joins the Team

    10 October 2017

    Hello from Sitka!

    We’re excited to report on a summer of progress for Outer Coast, and a few milestones on the horizon.

    Welcoming Aurora Roth to the Outer Coast Team

    The first and most exciting news of this update is the addition of Aurora Roth to our Outer Coast team.

    Welcome, Aurora!

    In Sitka, Aurora joins Cecilia Dumouchel, who served as a Sitka Winter Fellow last year and now serves as Outer Coast’s first professional staff. Aurora and Cecilia constitute our dedicated capacity for the Outer Coast project (although we’re looking to grow the team in coming months — more on that later).

    Aurora brings a wonderful blend of positivism, focus, and dedication to go along with a rich Alaska background. Growing up in Fairbanks, and later moving to Girdwood, Alaska, Aurora competed as an alpine skier and continues to be involved in the skiing and avalanche education communities in Alaska.

    She attended Carleton College and last year earned a MS in Geophysics at the University of Alaska — Fairbanks, focusing on glaciology. Most recently, Aurora has supported science research in Greenland and Antarctica. Aurora has been deeply involved with Inspiring Girls Expeditions, which offers tuition-free wilderness expeditions for young women to explore science and art.

    We are so excited to welcome Aurora to the Outer Coast team and to the comparatively balmy, southeastern realm of Alaska!

    Aurora kayaking

    Aurora on a recent kayaking trip in Southeast Alaska.


  • Visiting the Valley

    29 June 2017

    Hi all,

    I’m Bryden Sweeney-Taylor, one of the Core Team members at Outer Coast. I was a student at Deep Springs from 1998 to 2000 and graduated from Harvard with a degree in Folklore and Mythology. Over the last dozen years, I’ve worked in non-profit education ventures, and I’m currently CEO of College Access and Success at America Achieves.

    I first learned about Outer Coast in the spring of 2015 while I was teaching at Deep Springs and Will Hunt, Outer Coast Winter Fellow and Core Team member, was finishing up his second year at Deep Springs. I met Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins later that summer, and my involvement in the project expanded throughout the 2015-2016 academic year. In the fall of 2016, I became a Core Team member.

    A Trip to Deep Springs

    Deep Springs College has been one of the inspirations for our work on Outer Coast from the get-go. So earlier this spring, fellow Core Team member Sara Feinberg and I rendezvoused with Mollie Kabler and Marya Pillifant, who serve on the Sitka Fine Arts Camp (SFAC) Board of Directors, for a visit to Deep Springs Valley in Eastern California.

    SFAC is the owner of the Sheldon Jackson Campus, the prospective home of Outer Coast, and the Board was eager to get a better sense of what Deep Springs is all about as part of their due diligence process to understand how Outer Coast could be integrated into the existing programs at Sheldon Jackson.

    Mollie and Marya came down all the way from Alaska — Sitka and Anchorage, respectively — to Las Vegas before heading north to Deep Springs. We arrived on a glorious Sunday afternoon that marked the start of the last week of Deep Springs’ spring term. Our first adventure had us heading south from the Main Circle of campus on a dusty dirt road, past the Dairy, Fields 5, 6, 7, and 8, the Metal Dump and the Dead Animal Dump, to the shores of Deep Springs Lake to catch a glimpse of the endemic Deep Springs Black Toad. We saw more than a few!

    Sara Feinberg, Mollie Kabler, and Bryden Sweeney-Taylor among the toads at Deep Springs Lake.

    Sara Feinberg, Mollie Kabler, and Bryden Sweeney-Taylor among the toads at Deep Springs Lake.


  • 6,112 Hours...

    03 May 2017

    We’re hard at work, and we wanted to let you know.

    First, marshaling our powers of arithmetic and educated estimation, and through a system of time accounting implemented last year, we have ballparked that our core team has invested approximately…

    6,112 hours towards moving Outer Coast to reality.

    We’re proud of this number. And of course, every hour has been matched by you and other friends and supporters with additional time, financial generosity, expertise, introductions, and encouragement. Thank you, all. We think it speaks to the magnitude of our commitment and the ambition of this idea.

    These inputs are creating progress.

    Terrell and Cecilia at the ferry terminal

    Terrell and Cecilia getting ready to board the M/V Malaspina (at 2:14 a.m.) to head back to Sitka from Juneau. They were in Juneau to work with Jonathan in person and meet up with key Outer Coast collaborators.


  • Sitka Winter Fellows – Outer Coast Position

    12 March 2017


    The Outer Coast team has been hard at work planning for the next program year. We have begun to map out a more robust staffing plan and organizational structure and are currently seeking someone who is eager to innovate on the cutting edge of higher education to join the team as a Sitka Winter Fellow beginning this fall.

    If you are interested in this position or know someone who would be a great fit, please pass along the position description found here. We are asking applicants to submit a resume and statement of purpose by March 24, 2017. If there are any questions regarding the application, please direct them to Cecilia at


  • Uber Eckholm and the Year Ahead

    20 January 2017

    Happy New Year!

    The Outer Coast team has enjoyed a productive couple of months. The core team gathered in New York City for a three day Uber Eckholm — we refer to our bi-monthly core team meetings as Eckholms, in reference to a cluster of islands in the Sitka Sound. At the Uber Eckholm, we had the opportunity to all be in the same room at 246 Greene Street, New York University, for a three-day-long convening.


    The principal team at work in NYC.


  • Past two months of progress; contributing to the future

    01 June 2016

    Musicals are complex creative products. You need a librettist, a director, a choreographer, a composer, a producer. A diverse team with disparate expertise working together to make the whole production sparkle.

    The same is true of Outer Coast, especially as we look back on the last two-plus months of progress. It’s a team effort. A medley of amazing people across Alaska, the U.S., and the world, working together to make real a new institution of higher learning that scintillates with creative, intellectual, and entrepreneurial energy.


    Photo credit: the inimitable Berett Wilber

    We want to showcase our own choreographers, lyricists, producers, etc., along with a sampling of their wonderful creations.


  • Building blocks for a college

    31 March 2016

    When we embarked on this project of creating a college, the process was almost more mysterious than the goal we were working towards. There’s no handbook on creating a college. Figuring out how to do it has been half the adventure, and we’re excited to share some of that progress with you.

    As we’ve marched forward we’ve identified discrete Lego blocks needed to build a college. There are many, but the most important are (in alphabetical order, because they’re all important):

    • accreditation
    • building a budget
    • campus (for us: Sheldon Jackson Campus and partnership with Sitka Fine Arts Camp)
    • curriculum, academics, and pedagogy
    • fundraising
    • recruitment, admissions, and building relationships with our future students


  • Outer Coast peers into the New Year, and looks back on recent past

    29 December 2015

    Good evening from beautiful Sitka, Alaska!

    Skiff in the mist

    (Photo by the estimable photographic talent, Berett Wilber

    Outer Coast in the news

    In the last month, Inside Higher Ed, the Sitka Sentinel, and the state paper-of-record Alaska Dispatch News have covered Outer Coast. Stray mentions are cropping up in parts of the blogosphere. We’re tickled every time a Google Alert sprouts in our inbox.


  • Blueprint for a college

    19 November 2015

    Last week, on November 11 and 12, more than a dozen creative, entrepreneurial, idealistic minds from across the country gathered in the Del Shirley room of Allen Hall, the heart of Sitka’s Sheldon Jackson Campus.

    Will, Javier, and Jonathan presented the foundational documents for Outer Coast they had prepared over the preceding two months: a detailed draft budget and what we are calling a “college blueprint” — a comprehensive blend of student handbook and operations plan.

    Our band of inspired collaborators interrogated every sentence of these documents, further invigorating the vision of the school and strengthening and deepening the detail of our plans.

    We are excited to share this college blueprint in the coming weeks. We are also excited to share a shot of last week’s gathering, taken by the inimitable James Poulson:

    Outer Coast meeting in Del Shirley room in Allen Hall


  • Outer Coast in Sitka, Alaska

    23 October 2015

    We are creating an institution of higher learning in Sitka, Alaska.

    “We” is an inclusive pronoun. The principal collaborators are Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Will Hunt, and Javier Botero. We’ve been working on the project for a little more than a year.