Eriq Acosta demonstrates solar electric on Pine Ridge.

2018 : A look back

At TWP our mission is to help communities protect, conserve, and manage their natural resources. In 2017, we improved the lives of even more families with your support.

Dear Friends,

If nothing else, 2017 taught us that no matter what plans we make, there will always be forces that require us to adapt, rethink, and revise our approach to seeing those plans through.

From the passing of a close colleague, to the successful transition of four out of five director positions, to improvements of our office, Trees, Water & People (TWP) has undergone a complete refresh in the past year and has emerged strong, renewed, and determined for the next 20 years of growth.

We’ve been able to weather all this change only because of the dedication of our employees, the support of our donors, the guidance of our board, and the persistence of our partners. Working together, there is little that can stop us — and that’s good because the challenges we face are tremendous.

In spite of all of the difficulties we see in our work, the perseverance we see from our partners and the communities we serve is nothing short of amazing. TWP exists to help people reach their fullest potential —combining local knowledge with new skills and resources to rewrite what’s possible for marginalized communities throughout the Americas.

We’ve come to understand that the greatest outcome we can achieve is improving a community’s collective self-esteem so they can address local challenges. We also believe that strong rural livelihoods depend on the health of local ecosystems, and that engaging young people in their community’s development is the surest way to create lasting change in these areas.

Thank you for believing in our mission, and for supporting it over the years. We look forward to having an even greater impact in 2018/2019 and hope you’ll help spread the word about us as we grow.

With gratitude,

Sebastian Africano signature

Sebastian Africano
Executive Director

Glenda, a clean cookstove recipient in Nicaragua.

Creating Leaders in Nicaragua

by Gemara Gifford, International Director 2018

Glenda (pictured above) is a community leader of her rural village of Las Lomas, Nicaragua, but she didn’t always have a voice. In 2016, her family received a clean cookstove from our partner, Proleña, that dramatically changed her life. Glenda had this to say about her new clean cookstove:

The improved stove has changed my home. It has improved my health and reduced the amount of money we spend because we use less firewood and don’t need to buy as much. It also helps with climate change because it produces less smoke and contamination. My health has improved because before with the open-fire stove, my face would get inflamed and I would have to leave the room, but with the clean cookstove I don’t need to. What else can I say? I love it!

Her understanding of the benefits of clean cookstoves has enabled Glenda to become a leader in her community. She became a “cookstove promoter” helping other clean cookstove users adjust to their new stove and properly maintain it. Glenda was also a key leader during an indoor air pollution study that TWP and Proleña conducted in partnership with Aprovecho Research Center last autumn.

In this study, we measured womens’ exposure to toxic air pollutants and compared those who used open-fire stoves (58 women) to those using Proleña’s improved cookstoves (41 women). The results were alarming; the traditional stove users were consistently exposed to a “heavily polluted” environment. After the study, we made sure the women who were still cooking with open-fire stoves received an improved cookstove, too!

With her leadership, 15 women in Glenda’s community were trained on how to use and maintain clean cookstoves so that the women who had been cooking with open fires their whole lives would receive their new cookstove feeling confident and inspired by Glenda’s story.

Even though Glenda’s new challenge is facing the reality of Nicaragua’s political crisis, where basic supplies are limited and expensive and few paying jobs exist, she is still hopeful. This story began with a cookstove and ends with a leader.

2017 - 2018 Financial Report


Individual Donors $689,340
Corporate Support $144,454
Foundation Support $167,682
Eco Tours $49,863
Government $42,074
Fundraising Events $7,228
Fees for Services $5,300
Unrealized Gain/Loss on Assets $9,100
Interest Income $2,236
Miscellaneous Income $1,029
Total Cash Revenues $1,118,306
Donated/Volunteer Services $104,478
Total $1,222,784


International Program $456,991
El Salvador $49,775
Guatemala $106,298
Honduras $117,583
Nicaragua $183,335
National Program $382,696
Support Services $103,927
Fundraising $142,286
Total Cash Expenses $1,085,900
Donated/Volunteer Services $104,478
Total $1,190,378
Net Assets at End of Year $1,003,754

2017-2018 Revenue

2017-2018 Expenses

We strive to be responsible with every gift we receive, putting your dollars to work where they are needed most. We encourage our donors to explore our profiles on these independent, third-party review sites

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Art Rave from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

A Thank You Letter from Tribal Lands

Art Rave (pictured above on the left), of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST), attended the Mobile Power Station Workshop hosted by Trees, Water & People (TWP) and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) in July of 2017.

Dear Trees, Water & People Supporters,

Thank you for the amazing opportunity you provided during the Mobile Power Station Workshop at RCREC. The amount of information and the training I received at the Center was wholeheartedly impressive.

During the first few hours of the workshop, I started to learn the basics of solar energy and how solar energy systems work. Within the first few days of hands-on training, I began to truly understand how the solar power energy systems operate. On the last day of the workshop, I was ready to take all that I learned back to my tribe on the Cheyenne River Reservation and plan our own solar projects.

Over the past few years, TWP and their supporters have provided us with multiple opportunities to continue our relationship in helping my homelands with training and tree-planting events.

As a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, I understand firsthand exactly what energy independence can mean to a struggling community. With your continued support in helping rural, indigenous tribes, we are able to plan multiple tree-planting events and solar training programs for our youth throughout the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.

The partnership between the TWP and CRST will continue to flourish for years to come with the help and support of your fantastic staff, donors, and volunteers.

Thanks again for your help and support!


Art Rave
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Thanks to these innovative partnerships, we have been able to complete important community-based sustainable development projects. To learn more about our Partners for a Sustainable Planet program, please visit

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Fueled by the power of music and a passion for sustainability, Positive Legacy works to transcend cultural boundaries and address the needs and aspirations of the communities we visit. Positive Legacy is committed to integrating live music and service by taking actions that positively impact people and the environment. Working in conjunction with Cloud 9 Adventures, partner organizations, and a collective of creative leaders in the music industry, Positive Legacy coordinates environmental and humanitarian service projects for destination live music events.

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World Centric® is a socially responsible company that provides zero waste solutions to reduce environmental impact. We create compostable products that respect people and the planet, and use our profits to help those suffering and in need by providing opportunities for economic development, food security, education, housing,and basic health care, while also changing the systems that are the root causes of the suffering. We not only sell high-quality certified compostable products, but also strive to be a model of sustainability.

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Better Homes for you...and Our Planet! It’s not just a company tagline. The Green Team Real Estate’s passionate, sustainability-minded Realtors® are committed to a shared vision: helping clients buy, sell, create and invest in homes that are or can be updated to be more comfortable, healthy, and resource- and energy-efficient. Our agents have additional education related to green building, and are active in local organizations that support resource conservation, renewable energy, smart growth, and the development of a strong, sustainable local economy.

A Central American farmer and his tree seedlings.