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Partnership With Native Americans - Building Strong, Self-Sufficient Native American Communities
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OUR MISSION

“Serving immediate needs. Supporting long-term solutions.”

OUR VISION

“Strong, self-sufficient Native American communities.”

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Our Programs
Native American Elder.
NRC focuses on underserved and geographically-isolated Native American communities.
National Relief Charities serves 65 reservations in 11 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.


The foundation of NRC’s work is Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). 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. Local participation and empowerment are known to lead to sustainable gains and social change for the communities and people involved. Whether we approach this through Material Services or Long-Term Solutions, the key is developing and supporting momentum with many future leaders across many reservations and maintaining it over the long run.

You can learn more about the logic model behind our programs in our Charting Impact report.

Material Services
Our Material Services address critical needs for Northern Plains reservations, Southwest reservations, education and animal welfare. Material Services include all the “major programs” or humanitarian needs we address through the provision of products and essential supplies as well as seasonal services. Click on the major program pages below to learn why these programs are needed and how NRC responds.


As a donor, you may know these programs by their sub-brand names: American Indian Relief Council AIRC, American Indian Education Foundation AIEF, Council of Indian NationsCIN, Native American Aid NAA, Navajo Relief Fund NRF, Rescue Operation for Animals of the Reservation ROAR, Sioux Nation Relief Fund SNRF and Southwest Indian Relief Fund SWIRC.

To learn more about the results of NRC programs, visit our Impact page.

Native American child with their school supplies.
Education is one of the most important cornerstones of self-sufficiency and quality of life.
Our Education Services
The purpose of our Education services is to invest significant resources toward Native American education and assist Native American students of all ages in pre-kindergarten to high school. (See Long-Term Solutions for our higher education services.)

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 NRC serves. High school dropout rates range from 30 to 70% on these reservations.

NRC furnishes essential school supplies for more than 44,000 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, NRC helps our partner schools and colleges motivate students and retention.

NRC’s K-12 Education services include School Supplies and Literacy. These are marketed through our sub-brands: American Indian Education Foundation (AIEF) and American Indian Relief Council (AIRC).

Our Health Services
The purpose of our health services is supporting preventative care and health education initiatives conducted by our reservation partners serving tribal members.

Native American Elder receiving Health services.
The healthy lifestyle programs offered by our reservation partners and supported by NRC through our partners serve 250,000 Native Americans each year.
The people NRC 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. Due to higher infant mortality, lower life expectancy, diabetes at epidemic levels, tuberculosis seven times higher for Native Americans, and cancer-related disparities higher than for any minority group in the U.S., NRC supports reservation programs that address preventative and long-term healthcare needs.

The healthy lifestyle programs offered by our reservation partners and supported by NRC through our partners serve 250,000 Native Americans each year, through:
  • health screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, tuberculosis and cancer
  • education classes on diabetes prevention, healthy nutrition and heart health
  • youth programs including camps, suicide awareness and prevention, and youth obesity and exercise
  • health appointments for immunizations, hospital post-release and medication monitoring
  • home visits with those who are homebound or otherwise unable to access services
  • pre- and post-natal care, parenting and behavioral health
  • residential shelters for the aged, homeless, disabled and domestic abuse victims
NRC’s Health services includes Healthy Living (recurring health services offered by reservation partners), Community Events (one-time health-related events) and Baby Baskets (for new moms). These are marketed through our sub-brands: American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), Council of Indian Nations (CIN), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Our Food & Water Services
The purpose of our Food & Water services is to ease food insecurity among Native American elders, children and families on the reservations we serve.

Native American Elder receiving fresh produce.
Low food security is an everyday issue on the reservations NRC serves.
Nearly one in four (23%) Native American households experience low food security, meaning not enough food quality, variety, or desirability of dietary intake. Because low food security is an everyday issue on the reservations NRC serves, nutrition-related disease rates are high. Contaminated drinking water is also an issue in many of the communities served by NRC. Although many food banks operate within NRC’s 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.

NRC helps meet immediate nutritional needs for 195,000 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
  • emergency food boxes to sustain Elders during the winter months when travel is risky
  • breakfast groceries for Elders the third week of the month when social security income runs out
  • fresh and frozen produce for elders in communities without local or affordable vegetables
  • garden tilling for Elders and community groups
NRC’s Food & Water services include Breakfast in a Bag (groceries for Elders), Grow (gardens), Produce, Standard Food (for senior centers serving Elders), Emergency Food (for winter months), Food Bank, and Bulk (food for community-wide distribution), as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter meals. These are marketed through our sub-brands: American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), Council of Indian Nations (CIN), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Native American child enjoying Easter eggs.
Holiday events help partners and local volunteers develop skills for future event planning and community service.
Our Holiday Services
The purpose of our Holiday services is to help our reservation partners spread community cheer and participation at times when many families are experiencing more stress and disenfranchisement.

Native American Elders and children on the reservations assisted by NRC are certainly aware of holidays celebrated across the U.S., but frequently their families cannot afford special holiday gifts or extras. Up to 43% of Native American children live in poverty, many of them raised by grandparents on severely limited, fixed incomes. The rates of poverty on the 65 reservations served by NRC range from 38% to 85%.

NRC provides holiday gift stockings for nearly 70,000 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.

NRC’s Holiday services include Children’s Stockings, Elder Gift Bags, Santa Stops (describe), and Easter Incentives. These are marketed through our sub-brands: American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), Council of Indian Nations (CIN), Native American Aid (NAA), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Our Community Support Services
The purpose of our Community Support services is to help reservation partners motivate involvement in community service, and to support programs concerned with animal welfare on the reservations.

Stray dog on Native American reservation.
NRC helps address community concerns related to animal welfare, such as supporting spay/neuter clinics and supplying veterinary programs with much needed food.
A long history of oppression has contributed to the limited view of opportunities many Native Americans envision for themselves and their families. Supporting self-determination and requiring people to take part actively in community projects and services in order to receive NRC materials and services adds to the success of our community involvement projects. In addition, animal welfare and the problems created from overpopulated and stray animals are immense for communities, including disease, animal bites, rabies and other safety concerns. The Navajo Nation alone has an estimated 1,500 to 6,000 stray dogs and cats. Because of this, NRC supports reservation programs that spay, neuter and vaccinate animals of the reservation; educate communities on proper care of animals; and enable animal groups to care for more animals.

NRC supports activities and projects designed by our reservation partners to increase community involvement in schools, elderly service programs and wellness initiatives and to reduce isolation. In addition, NRC helps address community concerns related to animal welfare, including supporting spay/neuter clinics and supplying veterinary programs with much needed food. This enables added care that helps reduce animal health risk and related community health risk on 15 reservations. Our community services benefit more than 114,000 Native Americans as well as animals under our reservation partners’ care.

NRC’s Community Support services include Incentives (for positive activities and behaviors), Hug-A-Bear (for children in trauma), Activities (for Elder projects and companionship) and Animal Welfare (for rescue and rehabilitation). These are marketed through our sub-brands: Rescue Operation for Animals of the Reservation (ROAR), American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), Council of Indian Nations (CIN) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

Our Emergency Services
Native American family after receiving emergency services.
NRC provides immediate disaster relief for tribal members who are displaced due to blizzards, hurricanes, floods, and contaminated water emergencies.
The purpose of our Emergency Services is to provide disaster relief for tribes and seasonal weatherization and housing assistance for Native American Elders.

The physical environment on the reservations NRC supports is often harsh, giving rise to a wide range of environmental disasters such as floods, forest fires, blizzards, ice storms, tornados and hurricanes. Some communities also experience acute or chronic contaminated-water emergencies. In addition, 40% of Native Americans live in sub-standard, overcrowded housing and the typical wait time for tribal housing assistance is three years or more.

As a first responder, NRC provides immediate disaster relief for tribal members who are displaced due to blizzards, hurricanes, floods, and contaminated water emergencies. NRC also offers seasonal support to selected reservation communities based on need. Due to the expense and logistics, NRC is unable to offer these services to all reservations. We also rotate these services to different communities to avoid creating dependency. 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
NRC’s Emergency Services include Environmental Emergency (disaster relief), Firewood and Coal, Winter Fuel (electric and propane vouchers), Winter and Summer Emergency Boxes, Weatherization (for elders’ homes), Foster Care (provisions for children removed from the home), Home Repair and Home Improvement (for Elders) and Residential shelter services. These are marketed through our sub-brands: American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), Council of Indian Nations (CIN), Native American Aid (NAA), Navajo Relief Fund (NRF), Sioux Nation Relief Fund (SNRF) and Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC).

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


Native American scholarship student.
College is not free for Native Americans, and our scholarships help open the door to college access.
Our Higher Education Services
The purpose of Higher Education Services is to increase college access and retention for Native American students. Until now, these services were included under Material Services, but upcoming enhancements to our scholarships and transition camps and the way we are tracking results put these more squarely under Long-Term Solutions.

Only 17% of Native American students start college and only 11% complete college. Non-Native students are twice as likely to achieve a college degree. Many Native students believe college is not an option for them and, contrary to public perception, college is not free for Native Americans.

For Native American students pursuing a higher education, NRC provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. We focus on applicants who are most often in the middle range of the academic ranking but who have serious drive and a demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles. NRC also supports transition camps to motivate a college mindset and prepare Native students for freshmen year. And we make grants to tribal colleges, universities, and other groups committed to Native American education and increasing retention and funding for Native students. Our Higher Education services assist more than 500 Native students each year.

NRC’s Higher Education Services include Scholarships, Emergency Funds (to support retention), Challenge Grants (to increase Native student funding), Tools of the Trade (to provide requisite tools for degree programs), and Transition Camps (to support college readiness). These are marketed through our American Indian Education Foundation (AIEF) sub-brand and also supported by foundations, corporations and individual major funders.

Native American Partners in a training class.
Our capacity building services enhance professional development for reservation partners who are leading positive change in their communities.
Our Capacity Building Services
The purpose of our Capacity Building services is to equip reservation partners and nominated community leaders who want to make a greater contribution toward serving their communities.

Pilot testing of our new and improved partner training was successful — it 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. NRC has been testing and revamping our training service with reservation partners since 2012.

Currently, our Capacity Building program includes one service: 4 Directions Development Program (4D). This training is designed around a six-month program, with partners committing to self-identified personal and professional development goals and working with mentors for support in attaining their goals. NRC monitors the progress of our 4D participants for three years after completion of the training. In the meantime, check out our early 4D results from the Fall 2014 cohort.

NRC is currently expanding Capacity Building services for both Southwest and Northern Plains reservations.

Our Community Investment Projects
The purpose of Community Investment Projects is to support community leaders who drive grassroots projects in reservation communities. These one-of-a-kind projects aim to positively impact the lives of tribal members and to deliver some type of sustainable gain for Native communities — thus the name “Community Investment Projects” (CIP).

Native American Elder and child in garden.
Intergenerational gardening motivates youth and yields fresh food in reservation food deserts.
Some 23% of American Indian households experience low food insecurity, more so than other families in the US. Low food security means uncertain or limited access to enough food for an active healthy life. As a result, nutrition-related diseases are also prevalent. Native American have the highest rate of diabetes in the U.S. and access to healthcare is low. 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. In response, NRC’s Community Investment Projects typically involve:
  • nutrition and health projects related to food sovereignty
  • youth development
  • emergency preparedness
Our CIP project collaborations extend for up to 3 years. For samples of Long-Term Solutions projects underway, see our Annual Report.

NRC’s Capacity Building services and Community Investment Projects are marketed under the National Relief Charities name. Our Higher Education services are marketed under our American Indian Education Foundation (AIEF) sub-brand.

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Supports Indian education by providing students with scholarships and the tools to learn.
> learn more
> view AIEF website
AIRC logo for NRC site Provides a broad scope of relief efforts in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Idaho.
> learn more
> view AIRC website
rt_prog_CINnew.gif Provides food and other services in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
> learn more
> view CIN website
Provides a broad scope of services on reservations in the Southwest.
> learn more
> view SWIRC website
Brings nutritional support to Sioux Elders who suffer from dietary and vitamin deficiencies.
> learn more
> view SNRF website
Primarily serves communities on the largest of all Indian Reservations in the United States, the Navajo.
> learn more
> view NRF website
Assists needy children, adults, and Elders on reservations in the Plains.
> learn more
> view NAA website
ROAR Assists struggling animals and the people on the reservations who care for them.
> learn more
> view ROAR website
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