Our Purpose

Running Strong for American Indian Youth was co-founded in 1986 by Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) and Gene Krizek after the two men bonded over their mutual desire to help those impacted by generational poverty and trauma each had seen on their travels around the world. 

Billy’s dream to give back to his home community of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — and Native communities across the country — was supported by Gene’s extensive experience in Congress, foreign service, and the US Air Force. Together, they began to forge the longstanding partnerships across Indian Country that still create sustainable change today.

Beginning with the simple act of bringing water to the people of Pine Ridge, Running Strong’s involvement now reaches dozens of Native communities in more than 30 states with focus areas including critical needs, organic gardens and food, culture and language preservation, emergency assistance, schools and youth support, and seasonal programs. Running Strong implements our own programs as well as supports independent groups who align with our mission, such as nonprofits, community centers, and grassroots projects. 

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