Mission & History


Running Strong’s mission is to help Native American people meet their immediate survival needs – food, water, and shelter – while implementing and supporting programs designed to create opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem.

Billy Mills (right) joined forces with Eugene Krizek (left) in 1986 to help found Running Strong for American Indian Youth®.

Running Strong was founded under Christian Relief Services in 1986.  After Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) became the Olympic champion for the 10K, he made it his priority to give back to his community and create a better future for Native American youth.  

Running Strong’s work began primarily on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations in South Dakota.  We implement programs to provide immediate and lasting aid with food and nutrition, water access, youth, education, and seasonal demands. Over the years, our service population and programming expanded dramatically.  Today we are proud to serve Native American people both on and off reservations throughout the United States.


Running Strong for American Indian Youth is an affiliate of Christian Relief Services. The mission of Christian Relief Services is to work through partnerships and in collaboration with grassroots charitable groups, churches and human service agencies, to connect the vast resources of America to help those in need in their own local communities and to enable people to help themselves.

More Christian Relief Services Affiliates

Americans Helping Americans

Americans Helping Americans® mission is to ease unnecessary chronic suffering for struggling families throughout the Appalachian region and across the nation by creating long-term community solutions to the problems of hunger, limited education and resources, and substandard housing.

Bread and Water for Africa

Bread and Water for Africa® works with organizations to promote self-sufficiency and improvements in health, education, agricultural practices, and sustainable energy. BWA works to fund programs that offer creative solutions to meet the basic needs of communities in Africa.

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