PLATINUM2024

The Kwek Society

End period poverty

ARLINGTON, VA   |  www.kweksociety.org

Mission

Kwe’k (pronounced “queck”) means ‘women’ in the Potawatomi language. We are The Women’s Society. The Kwek Society works to end period poverty in Indigenous communities in the United States while celebrating individual dignity, agency, and success. We provide Indigenous students and their peers, as well as certain Indigenous communities, period care items, including our moon time bags filled with supplies. We curate and share widely period education materials and traditional, Indigenous teachings about periods that center menstruators. And we work to shine a light on the inequities experienced by those we help.

Notes from the nonprofit

Please see comments from those we support -- and our supporters and donors -- at https://greatnonprofits.org/org/the-kwek-society

Ruling year info

2018

Founder + Executive Director

Ms. Eva Marie Carney

Main address

PO Box 5595

ARLINGTON, VA 22205 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

82-4369803

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Nonmonetary Support N.E.C. (B19)

Health - General and Rehabilitative N.E.C. (E99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Many Indigenous students, particularly those living in the rural US, experience "period poverty" -- that is, they do not have access to a sufficient number of pads and tampons when they have their periods. As a result they may skip school altogether, suffer embarrassment or ridicule during the school day, or impact their health by using supplies for longer than intended or by making do with makeshift supplies like wadded up toilet paper or cotton rags. To protect their dignity and health, The Kwek Society provides pads, tampons, moon time bags, puberty/period education materials, and underwear to Indigenous students and their peers through our school and community partners. Our focus in 2024 is growing our school partnerships within and beyond the 18 U.S. states in which we currently operate. Kwe'k means "women" in the Potawatomi language. It is pronounced "queck" like in "trek."

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Distribution of pads, tampons and other period supplies to schools serving Indigenous students

The Kwek Society supplies period products to schools and students across the United States so that students can stay in school and maintain their dignity, health, and confidence while on their moon times.

In 2019 our program became international when we added a school of Anishnabe students and their peers in Ontario, Canada. At the end of 2022 we had 99 school partners and community organization partners, including Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, across 14 states and Canada's Ontario province. As of year-end 2023 we had 183 U.S. in 17 states and and 11 Canadian partners in Ontario province. As of 2024, our Canadian presence is limited; we have partners in 18 U.S. states and are supporting one school in Ontario province with a strong Indigenous Studies program.

We restock partner schools as needed throughout the year. We are committed to serving as many indigenous students and their peers with period-supply-access issues as we possibly can.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
At-risk youth

Our work with Indigenous students introduced us to others doing vital work to support Indigenous youth, families and communities. As resources allowed, we partnered with non-school programs to help ensure that those they serve do not have to miss activities of daily life when they are on their periods, or the indignity of stained clothing, or use period supplies for longer than intended and risk their health due to insufficient supplies. At year-end 2022 our partners included First Nations-run community health organizations in Ontario, the Native Village of Marshall in Alaska, friendship houses operated in Oklahoma, and a Dine youth office operating across Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. In 2023 we added community program partners operating on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. As of 2024 we are seeking to grow our school-based partnerships while maintaining our existing community-based partnerships where need and interest remain.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Economically disadvantaged people

Through personal contact and outreach, as well as through our website, social media and journalists publishing in print and online, we draw attention to the inequities facing Indigenous youth and communities, including menstrual inequity, and also highlight the successes of Indigenous people across North America. In May 2022, for example, Global Citizen published "'Moon Time Bags' Fight Period Poverty While Honoring Sacred Native Traditions," after interviewing our founder. See https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/period-poverty-native-americans-kwek-society/. The rich traditional teachings about puberty that we highlight on our website now are linked -- and accordingly much more widely available -- on Suffolk University's Our Bodies Ourselves Today website, here: https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/native-american-stories-and-ceremonies-about-menstruation/. Our work was highlighted in June 2023 in Harvard Public Health's newsletter, https://harvardpublichealth.org.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

Power, Together 2019

Women Political Leaders

Wyoming's Period Hero 2022

Walmart & Always Brand

Affiliations & memberships

Alliance for Period Supplies 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of moon time bags and puberty/period education books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Distribution of pads, tampons and other period supplies to schools serving Indigenous students

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our supporters sew moon time bags which we stuff with pads and liners and a celebration message. We supply, when requested by school staff, puberty education books for both sexes.

Number of tampons, pads, liners, reusables and underwear distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people, Indigenous peoples

Related Program

Distribution of pads, tampons and other period supplies to schools serving Indigenous students

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the heart of our mission. The number spiked in 2020, and spiked again in 2021. Through 2022 we distributed almost 1.3 mil. supplies. Through 2023 this more than doubled to 2.85 million.

Number of schools and Indigenous programs whose students and members we serve

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Distribution of pads, tampons and other period supplies to schools serving Indigenous students

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We continue to grow. We are committed to addressing the need for period supplies in the Indigenous United States. As of year-end 2023 we serve 183 U.S. and 11 Canadian partners, mostly schools.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1. Near-term goals: grow exponentially the number of period products we donate and extend our reach to more Indigenous students and their peers. We are succeeding: at the close of 2021 we had 72 partners in 8 U.S. states; at year-end 2023 we had 183 partners in 17 U.S. states.

2. Ultimate goal: eliminate period poverty in Indigenous communities.

3. Operate with respect for those we serve.

4. Strive to champion those we serve. Through social media, press coverage and personal engagement, educate all North Americans about the accomplishments of Indigenous youth, families and community members while shining light on the inequities experienced by those we help.

4. Thrive as a respected and well-run non-profit performing with transparency and excellence.

1. Obtain donations of menstrual supplies and related items, through local, volunteer-led product drives and manufacturer, supplier, and allied nonprofit organizations' donations. Secure cash donations to purchase and mail supplies to meet the monthly menstrual supply needs of the Indigenous students and communities we serve, including from the Native Nation sovereign governments. In February 2020 we were invited to become an Allied Program of the Alliance for Period Supplies, which is providing us with technical assistance and offers us free or reduced cost product from time to time.

2. Interact with leaders in Indigenous communities to understand and meet, when resources allow, the specific period product needs of those communities. Our objective is to support the dignity of each person we serve and to meet individual preferences for period supplies whenever possible.

3. Engage others with respect to the strength, resilience and accomplishments of Indigenous people through personal and public interactions, through our website, www.kweksociety.org, Facebook and LinkedIn pages and Instagram account (thekweksociety) and Twitter feed, @KwekSociety, and through coverage by interested journalists.

4. Through these same avenues, raise awareness of the issue of "period poverty" -- that (1) needed period supplies are expensive, especially in rural areas without discount stores; (2) budgets often cannot be stretched to purchase sufficient monthly supplies, and (3) menstruators' health and dignity suffer as a result. Work to contribute to solutions that put an end to this scourge.

5. Share our performance and financial data through this platform and others.

1. We are all volunteers (except that we pay several part-time contractors and an intern who performs data entry and also pay an accountant and a web designer for their expertise), with a passion for this important work.

2. Eighty percent of our board is indigenous. We believe that our respect for Indigenous traditions and our commitment to supporting the dignity of each person we serve has been integral to our growth to date. Many of our newer partners have been introduced to us by partners to whom we made early commitments to provide support.

1. At the start of 2018 we were providing supplies to students in one school, Wounded Knee District School in Manderson, SD. By the end of 2019 we were serving students and communities in 4 states -- New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming -- and Ontario, Canada: a total of 37 schools and school programs. In 2020 we expanded our reach beyond schools to team with programs serving Indigenous persons and communities. We now count community health centers, youth groups and a street medicine program and a research program among our partners. By the end of 2021, we had expanded to both US coasts. And we keep growing; partner numbers at year end 2023: Alaska -4, Arizona-22, Colorado-3, Iowa-3, Kansas-1,Maine-5, Michigan -1, Nevada-1, New Mexico-43, Oklahoma-75, Oregon-1, South Dakota-10, Utah-1, Vermont-1,Wyoming-5, Canada (Ont.)-11, a total of 194 partners.

2. Through social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and press interest we have educated the public to the need to take action in response to the national disgrace that Indigenous people are skipping school and work when they have their periods because they cannot afford menstrual supplies. Our supporters are becoming active contributors to our work: during 2019, supporters held seven community pad drives and 4 Native American women and a dozen other supporters sewed moon time bags for those we support. During the 2020 pandemic the need for COVID masks became acute; supporters helped us get more than 10,500 masks to schools and communities across the United States. During 2023, we had 56 volunteers sewing and assisting.

We were recognized for our work to end period poverty in Native communities by a Brussels-based group, Women Political Leaders, when we accepted the 2019 POWER, TOGETHER Award, along with other period poverty-focused organizations working around the globe, at the Women Leaders Global Forum in November 2019. We received our first public grant in December 2019 from MissionBox, which financed our supplying students in 17 of the schools and programs we serve period supplies (pads, liners, underwear) over during Winter Break. During spring 2020 we secured our first commitment of monthly support from a foundation; during summer 2020 we were awarded another sizeable grant and in December 2020 we received our first sizeable grant from a family foundation. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development wrote about us in mid-June 2020 as one of a number of indigenous women-run groups doing critical and courageous work to assist Native communities and Native nations during the pandemic. Our partnership with Bras for Girls raised our profile in mid-2022 and garnered almost 3000 bras for those we support. Later in 2022, we were recognized as Wyoming's Period Hero by Always/Walmart.

In October 2020 we launched a quarterly newsletter and debuted a new brand, logo and website. We are energized and plan to push ahead as far as funds and time permit!

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

The Kwek Society
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Kwek Society

Board of directors
as of 05/16/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Barbara Hannigan

Kimberly Pratt

Lisa K. Witt

Kathy M. Webb

Tesia Zientek

Winona Elliott

Susannah Howard

Paige Willett

Pam Vrooman

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Not applicable
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Not applicable
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/1/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Native American/American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability