For more than 30 years, our organization has developed and delivered a wide range of services to help our Native American partners address critical needs that contribute to self-sufficiency and help end the cycle of poverty.
Evolving from a small startup to a national, Native-led nonprofit with a clear mission, high impact and committed donors who support our work, PWNA is recognized as a trusted partner and resource across Indian Country.
Originally starting in Virginia, we soon relocated programming to Rapid City, South Dakota to enhance Northern Plains reservation aid.
Transitioning away from serving individuals and toward serving tribal community-based programs (i.e., our reservation Program Partners) exponentially increased our reach and the number of lives we could touch.
Expanding to provide Southwest reservation aid, our second program office opened in Phoenix, Arizona. Our two program offices with 40,000 sf distribution centers are centrally located, enabling cost-effective logistics and distribution to approximately 50 reservations most organizations cannot reach.
Beginning educational support services helped respond to low funding for American Indian education and other challenges faced by Native students.
Establishing programming that included relevant gift-in-kind (GIK) products, due to our first large GIK donation from Matthew 25: Ministries began to distinguish us from other charities. Prior to this, all products were being purchased at retail prices. Having access to GIK took us from shopping carts and pickup trucks to warehouse equipment, large box trucks, and semis that deliver year-round to the reservations.
Establishing a Program Logic Model based on generally accepted theories of social change and tied to long-term outcomes enabled measuring progress toward our vision. Tracking established guidelines and measurable indicators also helped us fine-tune each service offered.
By 2005, we were supporting the important work of 500 reservation partners, through more than $500,000 worth of GIK products and 500,000 individual donors who were concerned about living conditions in Indian country.
Launching a reservation animal rescue program to support animal welfare groups on the reservations helped address the enormous challenge of stray animals and overpopulation, improve quality of life for the animals and help our partners manage community health risks.
Implementing an annual partner survey to evaluate our impact on the effectiveness of social programs in remote, isolated and impoverished tribal communities helped us better support our Program Partners.
Becoming known for our collaborative approach with tribal programs, we rebranded to Partnership With Native Americans, better conveying to donors who and how we serve.
Evolving in tandem with Program Partner needs, we introduced Long-Term Solutions — a series of capacity building services from leadership development to healthy cooking with ancestral foods to emergency preparedness training. We also introduced seed funding for Community Investment Projects such as intergenerational community gardens and greenhouses.
Annually providing up to $30 million in aid and services, a quarter of a million Native Americans benefit from our services each year. Our strength lies in effective programming, cultural competency and being a consistent, reliable resource to Indian country.
Our programming and relationships have evolved through shared learning such as this:
- Becoming more familiar with the service structure on the reservations helped us learn about existing programs we could enhance and the importance of supporting local determination.
- Learning about the service structure helped us identify the service gaps and work with partners on new ways to help fill them. Together, we created new services ranging from gardening to infant care to preventative healthcare — all based on our products and capabilities and the services being requested by the partners.
- Adding more GIK, services and reservation partners required enhancing our process to handle partner requests and manage the increased volume of requests.
- Adding Program Partner reporting based on increased deliveries helped ensure accountability for the goods going out and established PWNA gives a helping hand, not a handout. Our Partners must be actively involved in planning, organizing and recruiting volunteers for their distributions and program activities supported by PWNA.
- Hiring specialized semi drivers, warehouse staff, outreach and support specialists, and program managers helped us maintain a high quality of service to our reservation partners.
- Today, partnership remains at the heart of our work and our shared impact with the hundreds of tribal communities PWNA serves.