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Help Us Give Away $1 Million!

September 26, 2011

Last Tuesday, we launched our Partners in Preservation program in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota in front of a packed audience at the historic James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul.

Launched in 2006, Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has awarded over $5 million in grants over a five-year period to help preserve and restore 56 historic sites throughout the United States.

Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman were on hand to help us announce that 25 historic sites in the seven county Twin Cities metropolitan area have been selected to participate in the program. They both grew up in the Twin Cities so they were able to share personal stories about the impact of some of these sites on themselves and their families. The mayors also spoke of the importance of historic sites from both a preservation and an economic perspective. They also both declared September 20 as "Partners in Preservation" day in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, our main partner in this program, was also there to help launch the initiative. Stephanie spoke about the importance of partnerships as a key to the preservation process. She also announced that American Express has committed an additional $10 million to the program over the next five years, $1 million of which will be distributed to historic sites in the Twin Cities.

Local residents in Minnesota and people from around the country (that's you!) are encouraged to vote for their favorite historic site at

Beginning on September 20, people who "like" Partners in Preservation on Facebook can vote once a day every day through October 12 as well as post personal stories and share photos of the sites. The historic site that receives the most votes will be guaranteed its full grant request, and the balance of the $1 million will be distributed to the remaining sites based on recommendations from a local advisory committee comprised of civic and preservation leaders from the Twin Cities area.

We used a variety of criteria to select the sites participating in the program, including their historic significance, accessibility to the public, demonstration of community support, organizational excellence and evidence of a coherent and sustainable preservation plan.

The 25 sites participating are:

American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Banfill Locke Center for the Arts, Fridley
Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis
Chaska Athletic Park, Chaska
Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, St. Paul
C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall, St. Paul
Emerge Career and Technology Center (Old North Branch Library), Minneapolis
Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Belle Plaine
Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul
Fort Snelling Upper Post, Building 67, Hennepin County
Harriet Tubman Center East (former St. Paul's Monastery), Minneapolis
Hennepin Center for the Arts, Minneapolis
Historic Pilot Knob, Mendota Heights
James J. Hill House, St. Paul
Landmark Center, St. Paul
Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis
Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, St. Paul
Minnesota Transportation Museum (Jackson Street Roundhouse), St. Paul
Pilgrim Baptist Church, St. Paul
Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, Minneapolis
The Soap Factory, Minneapolis
Washington County Historic Courthouse, Stillwater
Waterford Iron Bridge, Waterford Township
Wayzata Depot, Wayzata

Some of these sites are well known to residents and visitors to the Twin Cities, but some of them are "hidden gems" that are virtually unknown except to neighbors. That's the way we like it. Descriptions of all of these sites are contained on the Facebook Partners in Preservation page.

So, go to "Like" the site and get started exploring and voting. Your vote can make a difference, and you can help us give away $1 million in preservation grants in the Twin Cities area later this fall.

Let me know what you think about these trends in corporate social responsibility. I'll respond in a future posting.

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