July 10, 2020
With more than 2 million people in the US lacking access to running water at home, including 30% of Navajo Nation residents, this week the Chris Long Foundation’s Waterboys initiative announced that it will launch a fundraising campaign and $100,000 gift to DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project. As part of the Foundation’s Hometown H2O program, the campaign will help provide water access on the Navajo Nation across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
Water access in the US is a social equity issue and heavily tied to race: Native Americans are 19x more likely, and Black/Hispanic Americans are 2x more likely, to be living in water poverty than White Americans. Having water at home is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation, which, at its peak, surpassed both New York and New Jersey for the highest infections per capita.
The Navajo Water Project brought running water for the first time to hundreds of families on the Navajo Nation. The program, which is Indigenous-led and staffed, installs solar-powered water systems into homes using 1200-gallon underground water tanks that are routinely serviced with fresh water deliveries.
Funds raised through the ongoing campaign will directly go towards providing clean running water to these families through the project. This gift will allow for:
- The immediate deployment of portable water storage tanks for 200 families living on rural parts of the Navajo Nation, which are a short-term solution while the families await installation of DigDeep’s Home Water System. Each family’s emergency 275-gallon water tank will be routinely refilled with safe, clean drinking water by the Navajo Water Project.
- The installation of DigDeep’s Home Water Systems for families living on rural parts of the Navajo Nation, as soon as construction is allowed to resume in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines. Each Home Water System delivers 1,200 gallons of clean, hot and cold running water that is replenished monthly through a water trucking system, as well as solar power electricity.
In addition to the $100,000 gift, Hometown H2O’s fundraising campaign seeks to expand the initial investment and generate awareness about the lack of water access among rural and Indigenous people throughout the US. Chris and Megan Long are donating $50,000, The Chris Long Foundation will match $50,000 and the hope is that fans will join them by donating at waterboys.org/hometown to increase the $100,000 gift.
“Everyone in America deserves access to water, but many rural and Indigenous families lack even one faucet with running water in their homes, a necessity most of us take for granted – especially during this pandemic,” said Chris Long, two-time NFL Super Bowl champion and founder of the Chris Long Foundation.
“Hometown H2O shares DigDeep’s conviction that access to water is a social equity issue. We’re committed to our partnership goal to expand water access for families across the Navajo Nation and are asking for help raising funds and awareness for this important cause. We’re incredibly grateful to DigDeep for their tireless efforts with the Navajo Water Project and look forward to working with them to solve water access on the Navajo Nation.”
The Chris Long Foundation engages in international and domestic programs focused on clean water, military appreciation and youth, with a specific focus on educational equity. Long created Waterboys, the Foundation’s signature program, in 2015 to unite professional athletes and fans around the mission of providing clean water to communities in desperate need.
To date, Waterboys has created access to safe water for more than 365,000 people with a goal to provide water to 1 million people. Hometown H2O, launched through Waterboys in 2019, was created with the goal to provide clean water access to American communities, households and schools.
Realizing the need for dedicated funds to serve tribal areas that are disproportionately affected by lack of water access, Hometown H2O added a third focus area – the Navajo Nation. DigDeep became the third charitable partner for Waterboys’ Hometown H2o program, joining Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and Water Well Trust as the program’s implementing partners to provide water access to rural and tribal homes.
“In lieu of a vaccine, one of the only courses of prevention in this pandemic is to shelter at home and frequently wash hands. This is a nearly impossible ask if you do not have running water in your house,” said Emma Robbins, Director of DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project. “The financial contribution by the Chris Long Foundation, and their spearheading of a fundraising campaign among Chris's fans, comes at a critical and urgent time in our mission to expand water access for families across the Navajo Nation.”