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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 important wind blocks during the frigid winter and providing much-needed shade during the sweltering summer. Internationally, TWP works extensively in Central America. 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, Tribal Renewable Energy Program

Community Stories

139 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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi,

I've been volunteering with TWP for over 4 years to help two Mayan villages (La Bendición and Nuevo Todos Santos) in Guatemala become a thriving sustainable community. I will be traveling to these communities in less than two weeks for my 5th visit. We've worked with the community on many projects, including:

* Commericalizing their honey production
* Updating and refurbishing their community building
* Rebuilding an furnishing their community kitchen
* Sourcing culturally appropriate spanish books for a community library
* Supporting their women's group with educational programs and support for their community garden
* Repairing their water reservoir

This trip we plan to provide school supplies, develop plans/funding for a new community kitchen for Nuevo Todos Santos and help re-initiate the youth group.

TWP is a strong force in advocating for Indigenous people in Central and North America. They impact the environment with their focus on Trees, water and the people. I've truly enjoyed working with them and getting to know the wonderful people in La Bendición and Nuevo Todos Santos. I've 'caught the bug' and will be working with TWP in Guatemala for years to come!

Sincerely,
Mike Hawes

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Trees, Water and People spent a very long time preparing for the Santo Domingo Tribe tree planting week. They have formed very real relationships through the amazing communication efforts and warmth of their team, and i am lucky to have had the honor of doing work with them! They truly care about the disproportionately felt environmental stresses which indigenous communities have been struggling with in light of harmful ecologically changing trends, in this case, as a result of an immense wildfire. James Calabasas spoke in his native language the entire day, as this was his tribe- i admit i was in awe and even a bit mystified by his and the entire tribes' ability to connect so deeply to their roots while we were all together digging into the soil to invest in the sustenance of these new living roots. After the opening prayer, we worked hard in the hot sun under cautious and detailed instruction about proper protocols for the silvicultural needs of the species, Douglas Fir. I heard about the geographical extend to which the non-profit performs from the Executive Director, Sebastian Africano, and was very impressed to hear international collaborative support was not uncommon for them. My utmost respect and kind wishes are for their team, along with Valerie Small and Jose Chalit to always grow in opportunities to plant trees, to grow, and to thrive.

Cam R.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Cam Reader and I work for the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. I had the incredible opportunity through the Forest Service to not only grow the Douglas Firs needed for the restoration project, but travel with two of my coworkers to the restoration site on the Santo Domingo/Kewa Reservation in New Mexico to plant the seedlings. We got to camp in a beautiful campground, meet many members of the tribe and work alongside them for two days on a beautiful reservation. We were invited back to have dinner both nights in a member's Pueblo with all of their family. There were countless amounts of unforgettable memories made, and history learned throughout the weekend. Including watching the women make their homemade bread with an adobe oven! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this project with Trees, Water and People and to have made such unforgettable connections with the wonderful people of the Santo Domingo Tribe; it showed me what it's like to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. I will never forget the experience and am looking forward to working with Trees, Water and People as much as I can and hopefully very soon.

Roberta K.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & People is a top-notch organization! They go above and beyond to help many communities both in the US and Latin America. The members of the organization put their money where their mouth is and spend a lot of time out in the field helping communities. They are quick to take action and provide resources in areas that really need them.
TWP is also highly regarded in the local community. I've had the pleasure of volunteering at some of their events this summer and really enjoyed meeting the lovely and caring members of both their staff and the board. TWP is an organization that will receive my support for many years to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with TWP to help with a few fundraising and storytelling videos. Love what they do and especially WHY and HOW they do it. Such a great group of committed people doing good in the world. Their approach is one that facilitates empowerment, accountability and sustainability for all their stakeholders. I highly recommend getting involved with them as a volunteer or donor.

Thanks TWP for all you do!

Bruce N Joanie P.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am the Chairman of a faith-based charity that supports TWP with projects in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Last year I spent two weeks visiting these projects with Sebastian, Gemara and Jose.
Each was being completed on schedule and in full compliance with the commitments they had made.
Their compassion and competence is wonderful to see.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became interested in TWP during my time as a masters student studying conservation at Colorado State University. I was lucky enough to intern with them for one semester. Although I was not with them for long, I was able to learn how effective they are in terms of their reach and impact nationally and internationally in terms of conservation and development at the community level. I think it is so cool that they have local partners in Central America whom they collaborate with to implement on the ground projects, ensuring projects fit with what local communities need. What a smart and innovative way to operate!

Passion clearly runs through the TWP staff. They are wonderful people with so much knowledge that they are willing to share. TWP does excellent work, and I'm proud to have worked with such an awesome organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I initially went on a tour with TWP to Pine Ridge Reservation in south Dakota as part of a service learning trip through CSU. My experience with them and their community partners was so inspiring that it lead me to joining their staff as an intern. Truly impressed everyday with the work that they are doing in indigenous communities in North and Central America. The type of organization that doesn't just give hand outs but truly helps communities foster a healthy relationship with our planet and simultaneously create economic and social development.

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