About 90,000 American Indian families are homeless or under-housed

Providing the right goods at the right time and in the right way.

PWNA serves 60 reservations in 12 states throughout the Northern Plains and Southwest regions of the United States. We focus on underserved and geographically-isolated Native American communities with limited employment opportunities, addressing both immediate needs and working towards long-term solutions.

We build upon assets within the communities we serve, bringing together individuals, programs and outside resources to address challenges and support positive change. This community-driven model leverages the social capital of a larger network mobilizing toward a common solution.

Material Services (Immediate Needs)

These are the major program categories through which we provide materials for immediate needs, as shown on our Form 990.



High school dropout rates range from 30 to 70% on the reservations.

Education is one of the most important cornerstones of self-sufficiency and quality of life. It is also a crucial factor in addressing the long-term poverty and other challenges on the reservations we serve. Our education services assist Native American students from pre-kindergarten to high school. (See Higher Education for college services.)

PWNA furnishes essential school supplies for more than 28,000 K-12 students on 25+ reservations.

We also support literacy for Native youth, providing supplies and incentives to encourage parent-child reading time. By addressing both immediate and long-term educational needs, PWNA helps our partner schools and colleges motivate students and retention. (Related programs: American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) and Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA).



Native Americans suffer from higher infant mortality, lower life expectancy, diabetes at epidemic levels, and cancer-related disparities higher than any minority group in the U.S.

Our health services support reservation programs that address preventative care, home health visits and health education initiatives for tribal members. The people PWNA serves on remote and isolated reservations rely on limited Indian Health Services (IHS) for medical care.

Transportation is a major problem because of the long distances to clinics and the lack of transportation. Severely underfunded and understaffed for the size and location of the populations it serves, IHS focuses on healthcare crises rather than preventive care. (Related programs: Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA), Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

The healthy lifestyle programs offered by our reservation partners and supported by PWNA serve 250,000 Native Americans each year through:
  • health screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, tuberculosis and cancer
  • education classes on diabetes prevention
  • immunizations, pre- and post-natal care
Food and Water

Food and Water

Nearly one in four (23%) Native American households experience low food security, meaning not enough food quality, variety, or desirability of dietary intake.

Our Food & Water services ease food insecurity among Native American Elders, children, and families. Because low food security is an everyday issue on the reservations PWNA serves, nutrition-related disease rates are high. Contaminated drinking water is also an issue in many of the communities we serve. Although many food banks operate within our service area, a study by America's Second Harvest shows that the majority of food banks lack an adequate supply of food to meet demand. (Related programs: Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA), Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

PWNA helps meet immediate nutritional needs for 145,000 people each year by:
  • supplying food boxes for food pantries
  • serving individual families on the reservations
  • staple foods for Elderly Nutrition Programs and soup kitchens preparing hot meals for Elders, community-wide meals during major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter
  • garden tilling for Elders and community groups
Holiday Services

Holiday Services

Up to 43% of Native American children live in poverty, many of them raised by grandparents on limited fixed incomes, and families cannot always afford special holiday gifts or extras.

PWNA’s Holiday services help our reservation partners spread community cheer and participation at times when many families are experiencing more stress and disenfranchisement.

We provide holiday gift stockings for more than 50,000 children, teens, and Elders during the Christmas holiday season.

These stockings are filled with practical items to meet immediate needs. In addition, children and families receive incentives and prizes when they come together to participate in spring, Easter, and other community gatherings. These types of holiday events also help partners and local volunteers develop skills for future event planning and community service. (Related programs: Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA), Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA), Native American Aid (NAA), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Community Support Services

Community Support Services

The rates of poverty on the 60 reservations served by PWNA range from 38% to 85%.

A long history of oppression has contributed to the limited view of opportunities many Native Americans envision for themselves and their families. Our Community Support services help reservation partners motivate involvement in community service and to support programs concerned with animal welfare on the reservations. (Related programs: Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR), Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA), Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Our community services benefit more than 88,000 Native Americans as well as animals under our reservation partners’ care, by:
  • increasing community involvement in schools
  • supporting elderly service programs to increase wellness initiatives and to reduce isolation
  • providing support for children in trauma
  • addressing community concerns related to animal welfare, including supporting spay/neuter clinics
Emergency Services

Emergency Services

When the January 21, 2010, blizzard caused a state of emergency for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the news and call for help did not reach mainstream media until 11 days later. This is often a common occurrence when disaster strikes the reservations.

Our Emergency Services provide disaster relief for tribes and seasonal weatherization and housing assistance for Native American Elders. The physical environment on the reservations we support is often harsh, giving rise to a wide range of environmental disasters such as floods, forest fires, blizzards, ice storms, tornados, and hurricanes. As a first responder, PWNA also provides immediate disaster relief for tribal members who are displaced due to blizzards, hurricanes, floods, and contaminated water emergencies.

PWNA also offers seasonal support in selected reservation communities, based on need. Due to the expense and logistics, we are unable to offer these services to all reservations. We also assist homeless shelters and other residential facilities on the reservations we serve. (Related programs: Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA), Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Our Emergency Services benefit nearly 54,000 people a year through:
  • firewood, coal, and winter fuel vouchers for Native American Elders
  • winter and summer emergency kits containing blankets, batteries, candles, water, nonperishable food, and other items
  • repairing homes that run significant risk for vulnerable Elders
  • replacing windows, adding ramps for wheelchair access and weatherizing homes for the winter

Long-Term Solutions

Like our Material Services, Long-Term Solutions are critical to our vision of strong, self-sufficient Native American communities and support the self-determined initiatives of reservation partners and other local leaders who are working for sustainable gains in their communities. While some of PWNA’s long-term services are new, they are already yielding positive outcomes for partners, participants, and communities on the reservations.

Higher Education

Higher Education

Only 17% of Native American students start college and only 11% complete college.

Many Native students believe college is not an option for them and, contrary to public perception, college is not free for Native Americans. PWNA’s Higher Education Services increase college access and retention for Native American students.

Our Higher Education services assist more than 350 Native students each year.

PWNA provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate Native American students. We focus on applicants who are most often in the middle range of the academic ranking but who have serious drive and demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles. (Related programs: American Indian Education Fund)

We also:
  • support transition camps to motivate a college mindset and prepare Native students for freshmen year
  • make grants to tribal colleges, universities, and other groups committed to Native American education and increasing retention and funding for Native students
Capacity Building

Capacity Building

Education is a cornerstone for self-sufficiency and the long-term challenges facing Indian country.

Our Capacity Building services equip our reservation partners who want to make a greater contribution to their communities. PWNA has been testing and revamping our formal training service with reservation partners since 2012, resulting in a new service that is unlike any offered in Indian country. This new training is a direct result of feedback from our reservation partners about needs and next steps that will help them be more effective.

Currently, our Capacity Building program includes one service: the Four Directions Leadership Development (4D). This training is designed around a six-month program, with partners committing to personal and professional development goals and working with mentors for support in attaining their goals. Our first cohort completes training this Spring. PWNA will track and report the progress of the participating participants for up to three years after program completion.

PWNA is expanding Capacity Building services in 2015 for both Southwest and Northern Plains reservations.
Community Investment

Community Investment

Up to 23% of Native American families live with low food security, and nutrition-related disease is disproportionately higher than other Americans.

American Indian families are more threatened by low food security than other families in the U.S., and they experience the highest rate of diabetes. In addition, suicide rates for American Indians between the ages of 15 and 24 are 3 times the national average — and the second leading cause of death for their age group. PWNA’s Community Investment Projects support community champions who lead grassroots projects in reservation communities. These projects aim to positively impact the lives of tribal members and to deliver some type of sustainable gain for Native communities.

Our Community Investment Projects typically involve:
  • nutrition and health projects related to food sovereignty
  • youth development
  • emergency preparedness

Our community investment projects are longer term in nature and involve tracking outcomes over a period of 6 months to 3 years. For samples of our Long-Term Solutions projects, see our Annual Report.