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2017 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

15 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

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with TWP for four years on various projects and am now a board member. The real strength of TWP lies in their persistent effort to empower local indigenous residents in American Indian and central American communities. TWP continues to re-evaluate its strategies and projects to fit with the times and with the aspirations of those in poverty.

1 Paul174

Board Member

Rating: 5

Trees, Water, and People is the rare organization that acts not just to care for our environment, but equally for the ways that communities -- particularly indigenous communities -- interact with the natural environment. It combines a systems impact approach with a deep respect for individuals and families. It's for these reasons that I continue to be involved!

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

TWP does great, innovative development projects in some of the most underserved communities in the world. This is a great organization to give to that will maximize the impact of your donation, or to provide you with an incomparable volunteer experience.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Trees, Water & People works with a network of partners in the U.S. and abroad to deliver enterprise based resource solutions to under served communities. Critical issues such as energy for heating and cooking, reforestation, and solar lighting and charging are addressed via creation of local businesses and jobs that provide much needed market development as well as life changing services. I have been thrilled and honored to serve as a Board member for almost a decade, and have had the uplifting opportunity to witness our programs at work in places like Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras as well as the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in the Northern Plains. Meeting and working with our partners such as AHDESA and Prolena in Central America and Lakota Solar Enterprises at Pine Ridge has helped me realize the phenomenal impact appropriate and green technologies can have in developing world settings. And visiting the people we serve in their villages and homes, and seeing first hand the way lives are changed and improved gives me real hope for the future of all of us.

Read more

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is my 3rd year working with TWP and I continue to be excited about the significant contributions the organization is able to make on tribal lands and in communities throughout Central America.
Some of the highlights in the past year include planting of 10,000 trees on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the work to build a home for a Lakota Family based on sustainable Compress-Earth-Block technology, and supporting Hopi recycling entrepreneur Tyler Tawahangva in the launch of his business, Cloud Nine Recycling. In addition, I’m particularly excited about the work to build the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate, which will really get going in the next year.
I am privileged to have the opportunity to continue supporting these projects.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

TWP is a quality organization making meaningful contributions to both people in need and to the environment.

I am excited by the contribution TWP makes with its partners on tribal lands and in communities throughout Central America and Haiti. Over the years, it has expanded efforts to include clean cookstoves to reduce deforestation, and solar energy to provide alternatives to carbon-based fuels. Providing such sustainable solutions also has a positive impact on the lives of the people in the communities TWP serves.

TWP provides the opportunity to get directly involved with projects and people. Over the past two summers, I’ve participated in several volunteer trips to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I’ve contributed to, and learned from, efforts in green building, green business development, and renewable energy. I’ve gotten to know several members of the local community, learning a lot about the Lakota people and the challenges they face today.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

When I heard about Trees Water People several years ago I knew this was an organization that I wanted to support. TWP not only plants trees but also has created stoves that need little wood and burn cleanly and efficiently. They are bringing simple and affordable solar to families with no electricity. This power changes their lives and does away with candles and non recyclable batteries. Now that I am a board member I am grateful to be more involved in bringing these huge changes to people around the world, which at the same time protect the environment for all.

Adele D.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Imagine you could plant trees in Central America.
Imagine those trees improving the atmosphere while feeding and shading the family who lives under them.
Imagine a clean burning cookstove can save some of those trees for the future while providing clean air indoors for the family that uses it.
Imagine the children in that family have more time to go to school since they aren't collecting so much firewood.
Imagine that a solar light could allow them to read books after dark.
Imagine that they can charge up cellphones with solar power to connect to the rest of the world.
TWP and its partners is doing all that and more!
Imagine you could help.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a donor to Trees, Water and People since its founding in 1998 and a Board member for the past nine years. In 2002 I volunteered to spend a month in Honduras building improved cookstoves in very poor, rural parts of the country. It was amazing to me the impact these simple stoves, mostly constructed with local materials, made in peoples' lives - eliminating harmful smoke from kitchens, saving time and/or money collecting or buying firewood. Good for the environment too! I have also worked on cookstove programs in Guatemala and Mexico and last year travelled to Uganda where a new pilot project has been started. This is a great organization with a dedicated and professional staff making full use of the resources it has available.

Review from Guidestar

Kevin29

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Trees, Water People since 1998. I was their outside accountant/auditor and, at that time, I knew them as an environmental organization, but not much more. Over time, as I got to know the principals and volunteers that make up the organization, I became more & more impressed at how such a small group of people can make such a large impact on the world. I am now a board member and the organization's treasurer. I have been on many boards in my career and I can truly say that I have never seen an orgaization that "Walks the Walk" like TWP. In many countries (Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, etc.) as well as on the Indian Reservations in the United States, what TWP does is truly life-changing. When I first got involved in the organization I focused on the "Trees" in the organization's name but as I became more involved I realized it is clearly about the people. I am truly proud to be a small part of such a great organization.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I continue to support Trees Water and People and serve on the board because I have seen first-hand the work that they do in collaboration with its partners in Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras . Several independent organizations have recognized TWP for their outstanding work with either cash awards, honors or both. These include the Ashden award from England, the Rio Tinto Environmental award and a UN environmental award. But aside from all the recognition and measurable success, the relationships that continue to grow, the empowerment of local communities that happens as the result of our collaboration with them, and the ensuing improvement to the lives of our partners has gained my undying respect and admiration.

Review from Guidestar

7

Board Member

Rating: 5

It has been an honor to be involved with TWP for the past 11 years. Starting out as a volunteer and recently joining the Board of Directors, I have seen TWP grow as an organization. At the same time, it has been remarkable to watch as TWP's impact in both the United States and in Latin America expanded. TWP's impact has grown due to strong, insightful leadership from program directors that have been able to adapt to continuously evolving environmental and social issues. TWP was on the cutting-edge of the improved cookstove movement as pioneers of implementing the Rocket elbow technology. Likewise, TWP's innovative program on Native Lands in the western US has made them a leader in micro-enterprise development.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a donor for several years before I joined the Board, and joined the Board because I believe in the difference TWP makes. What drew me first was the tree planting program in Central America, as well as the healthier cook stoves. As Treasurer and then as Personnel Committee chair, I have seen 1) how focused staff is on making a difference 2) the core mission of working with the local residents and 3)how efficient TWP is and how carefully donations are used. Donations were being collected for Haiti within a day after the earthquake and TWP staff have already been to Haiti to expand the fuel-efficient cook stove and tree planting programs there.