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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Trees, Water & People

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Energy Resources Conservation & Development, Environment, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Pollution Abatement & Control

Mission: Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to improve people's lives by helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends.

Results: Nationally, TWP is actively involved with helping to improve the lives of Native American families living on the reservations of the Great Plains. There, where the winters are extremely long and harsh, Native Americans commonly spend more than half of their income on their exorbitant utility bills. Together with our reservation-based partner, we have built 850 economic solar heating systems, saving tribal families 20-30% on their annual heating bills, and trained more than 175 tribal members in residential and facility-scale renewable energy applications. We have also planted trees and shrubs around the home sites for more than 160 additional families, further lowering heating costs and associated emissions by acting as an important wind blocks during the frigid winter and providing much-needed shade during the sweltering summer. Internationally, TWP works extensively in Central America and Haiti. Together, with our country-based partners, we support 8 community tree nurseries that produce over 650,000 trees annually to aid in reforestation efforts, planting over 4.3 million trees to date. We have built 47,800 clean cookstoves. Each cookstove decreases a family’s need for firewood by 50-70%, as compared to standard open fire cooking, and reduces carbon emissions by at least 1.5 tons per year. When vented to the outside of the home, these improved cookstoves also decrease indoor air pollution, which is responsible for the death of 1.9 million women and children globally every year.

Target demographics: low-income, rural and peri-urban communities in Central America, Haiti and on Native American Reservations in the U.S.

Geographic areas served: Latin America and U.S. Native American Reservations

Programs: Clean Cookstoves Program, Reforestation Program, Solar Energy Program, Tribal Renewable Energy Program

Community Stories

131 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Feeling the need contribute to the well being of others I researched and followed several organizations until I found TREES WATER PEOPLE. I am not very wealthy so I needed to feel my small offerings were getting a bang for the buck. Combining technology and local communities dedicated to improving peoples lives this non-profit is rocking it. In the central highlands of Honduras clean cook stoves improve lives by producing a lot less smoke in homes and reducing the tedious labor of gathering wood. Water cisterns made by a simple, and extremely durable design ease families through the dry months. The appreciation and gratitude the village people showered on us was very touching. I will be with TWP for a long time.Tamara Winter Nelson, Boulder, Colorado

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Every aspect of TWP’s approach is consistent with genuine community accompaniment. I have been impressed by TWP since 2005 when I was living in El Salvador and met up with friends who were volunteering with the organization. Since 2009, I have been privileged to have TWP staff visit my course on international development at Colorado State University to introduce students to their community-based work. Through these and other experiences with TWP I have developed tremendous trust in their commitment to those with whom they collaborate. - Suzanne Kent, PhD

Donor

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & People's dedicated staff and partners have been doing important environmental conservation work for 20 years now and counting! I am honored to be a donor of this incredible organization. They walk the talk every day and I strongly encourage you to get involved with TWP.

Jill Wallace de B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & people are definitely making a difference in this world. I teach entrepreneurship courses and I’ve chosen the executive director of TWP to be a guest speaker in one of my classes recently.

Here is a quote from one of my students in my class:

“Through this class and other experiences, I’ve heard about a lot of non profit organizations, however, this was the first time I actually wanted to further learn about the organization. I think because he combined the profit aspect with the philanthropic aspect. So many organizations just focus on the philanthropic and I’ve found myself wondering how they are able to pull it all off. Which he made it clear, how they made the organization operate.”

I think this quote brings what is really interesting about TWP: the entrepreneurial mindset of the organization to make things happen. I think this young generation wants to see non-profits that strive not only in the work they do, but also financially – TWP do both with excellence!

Paulo Brito

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They are deeply dedicated to their cause and mission. I like that. I also love their expert staff.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It did not take long for Trees, Water & People to become my favorite and most-admired nonprofit organization. Almost all nonprofits talk about commitment and transparency (everyone's new favorite buzzword), but TWP demonstrates both qualities in everything it does. Its focus is broad enough to reach a wide range of people, but narrow enough that anyone who contributes can see exactly how their donation was used, and maybe more importantly, why that decision was made. The staff is always available to answer questions, and always excited to show you what TWP is doing now, and what it plans for the future. TWP not only listens to its donors, it is outstanding in forming respectful friendships and alliances in the communities in which it works. It listens to the people it is trying to help, and does what they want and need. The work is driven by the people it benefits.

Donor

Rating: 5

I recently traveled with some of the staff of TWP to Guatemala to view their projects there. I am very impressed with TWP for a number of reasons. First of all, they are listening to the people to understand what is needed as opposed to assuming a need. They partner with local organizations which provide credibility and efficiency to their efforts. And, maybe most importantly, they make long term commitments to each village where they have involvement. I am very proud to support them.
Dave Veldman

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the amazing opportunity to be an intern this summer 2018 for Trees, Water & People. They are an incredible organization that truly is dedicated to empowering communities and serving others.

As an intern you get to work along side the wonderful professional staff who are invested in helping you learn and grow. I hold TWP in the highest respect and highly recommend interning or working with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I came across the work that TWP does, I knew that I'd found the perfect intersection of my two passions: social justice and environmental sustainability. Through TWP, I was introduced to the concepts of "community based development" and "sustainable development". Currently, I am an intern and have had a great experience not only because of the wonderful mission/work but also because of the incredibly talented and dedicated staff members that strive to make the world a better place each and every day.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I originally found Trees, Water, and People because I wanted to intern for an organization that cared about sustainability and community based development and TWP was the perfect match! I worked as an intern for a year and I couldn't have been happier with my time there. The staff is unbelievably friendly, hardworking, and passionate. I learned so much and got to be a part of so many different projects. I was incredibly proud to be part of a team that cared so much about communities across the Americas and worked hard every day to make people and the planet healthier and more resilient. So much love for the people at TWP and the work they do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about Trees, Water & People through my Women and Development class at Colorado State University. On that day, we were learning why indoor air pollution is called "the killer in the kitchen” and how it disproportionately affects women and children. The situation isn’t all despair though; as we learned, local nonprofit – Trees, Water & People – works with local community members to design clean cookstoves that greatly reduce indoor air pollution’s harmful effects on health and the environment.

1 ½ years later, I am very fortunate to intern for this amazing organization. The staff here are phenomenal; their passion for what they do shines through every single day. On top of their hard work and dedication to various communities in Central America and U.S. Tribal Lands, and to projects ranging from clean cookstoves, to reforestation, to renewable energy, and many more, they have taken the time to help me shape my internship in a way that best suits my needs. They ask me about my classes and future goals, and include me in social events. I am proud to work for an organization that cares so much about their partners, interns, volunteers, and the local community, and has inspired me to pursue a career in community-based conservation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an exchange student at CSU, I was looking for some work experience with an international organisation. Despite missing out on their internship program due to a lack of planning on my part, TWP were extremely helpful in finding a role for me that would be both enjoyable and suited to my skill set.

I found all of the staff their to be extremely likeable, but also really helpful in assisting me with my project. Sometimes as a volunteer you can feel like a spare part, this was certainly not the case at TWP where I was entrusted with a good amount of independent responsibility but also received as much assistance as I needed.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience with a small NGO making a significant impact in a number of fields.

Thanks!

Grace O.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & People provided me with a life-changing opportunity to connect with the Lakota community in Pine Ridge, South Dakota over my spring break at CSU. Thanks to National Director Eriq Acosta, I was able to work and learn alongside native community members at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and the relationships that grew from that were effortless. I have learned so much from this experience and I will keep these lessons with me for the rest of my life. -Grace Ota

James David Z.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was able to go on a trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota with Trees Water People and CSU Alternative Spring Break. This trip was amazing! I learned a lot about how TWP and their community partners are using renewable energy to empower this community. It shows how a great nonprofit like Trees Water People is dissecting some of the wicked problems that people on reservations across the country live with, and what they are doing to empower communities to combat those problems.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & People is a non-profit organization which benefits the environment as well as empowers indigenous people nationally and internationally. TWP's community-based development model provides opportunity which allows individuals to improve their lives and helps spread knowledge of renewable energy sources. I was first drawn to this organization through their use of the word "reforestation". I knew then and there that these were people actively focused on solutions. I am thankful to be working with an organization that makes a real and positive impact to future generations and the environment.

djleepe1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I happened to stumble upon Trees, Water & People and the volunteer opportunities they had threw a non-profit website. I instantly knew this was a special organization and that I wanted to do whatever it was I could to help. Once I reached out and came for my first volunteer project, I knew I would be coming back. I am now currently an intern working on various projects to help promote TWP. The staff is wonderful and very helpful. Each one of them has taken the time to include me in things, inquire about my goals and offering true friendship. Being an intern here for the past 8 months has channeled my passion for being a true advocate for our environment and for indigenous communities across the globe.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was the first Volunteer Communications Intern at Trees, Water & People. The people and work environment are welcoming and overall genuinely nice and he staff are really passionate about the mission & vision of the nonprofit. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite places to work at.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

TWP connects people to the planet by creating programs wherein communities protect the planet while protecting their own long term well being. TWP is small but makes a large impact and creates a ripple effect of good. Interning with them was an amazing experience full of personal and professional growth.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We worked with TWP at Lakota Solar Enterprises on Pine Ridge reservation and with Henry Red Cloud. Eriq and Richard were awesome and made sure we had what we needed and enough work to do. They explained things and answered our questions. TWP is working hard to help low income areas help themselves, and to partner with outside volunteers to help as all. Thank you!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5


On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 1:32 PM, Agnes Wagner wrote:
I had an amazing opportunity to volunteer at Trees, Water & People while I was on an extended visit to Colorado from Germany.
All the staff was incredibly supportive and helpful, and the work they are doing is truly amazing.

While I was there we were working on planting 33.000 trees on Pine Ridge Reservation and worked together with a Lakota family to complete a solar panels and a solar air heater installation. The solar air heating systems are manufactured at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, which provides jobs for local people, and also trains people from other First Nation tribes to take the technology back to their own communities.

Besides that we were working in Central America helping families to create a healthier lives by building clean cookstoves. With the stoves the indoor air pollution goes significantly down as well as reduces the time and the amount of wood needed for cooking...

Overall I really enjoyed my time at TW&P