Partnership with Native Americans

Partners in Improving Reservation Life

Committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans living on remote, isolated and impoverished reservations, Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) works with 60 tribes in 12 states and serves 250,000 native people annually.

PWNA works through a distribution network and more than 1,000 grassroots partnerships to improve the communities in which it serves. Much of the organization’s work centers on material aid, educational support and community-based services.

“We have defined our partners as programs offering different services in the community that we support including a public school on the reservation, veterans center, health club, a boys and girls club and so on,” said Rafael Tapia, PWNA program director. “As long as something positive is happening in the community, we support it.”

For many tribes, access to basic goods such as cleaning supplies and hygiene products is limited. The partnership will deliver those supplies as requested, while collaborating with Native American partners who live and work on those reservations to ensure the specific needs of that reservation are being met in the most effective way. Developing relationships and conducting follow-ups are keys to the organization’s effectiveness.

“By delivering only requested goods, we ensure the food is eaten, the shoes are worn, and the clothing fits,” Tapia said.

PWNA delivers more than 5 million pounds of materials from its distribution centers in South Dakota and Arizona each year. Its goal is to deliver the right products to its reservation partners when they are most needed.

To help achieve this mission, PWNA offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year, especially around holidays. Volunteers may assist in anything from packing Christmas stockings for children to planning and participating in activities with families on Easter and other major holidays.

“We support back-to-school initiatives and receive backpacks and school supplies that need to be packed and distributed,” Tapia said.

Regardless of a reservation partner’s core focus area (nutrition, education, health care), PWNA’s main goal is to offer support to improve any programs that help native people and develop local leaders to drive social change on reservations.

Partnership with Native Americans