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Members Project® Announces First Round Winners to Share $1.2 Million in Funding from American ExpressSix Charitable Organizations Chosen to Receive Members Project Grants Based on Votes of the Public
NEW YORK,  June 1, 2010 -- 

American Express and TakePart announced today that National Trust for Historic Preservation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, International Rescue Committee, DonorsChoose.org, ASPCA and Operation Smile are the winners of the first voting cycle in Members Project, an innovative online initiative that provides everyone with an opportunity to take small steps to make a big difference. Based on the votes of the public, American Express will provide the six winning charitable organizations with a total of $1.2 million in funding that will positively impact millions of lives around the world, in the areas of arts & culture, community development, environment & wildlife, education and health & wellness. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy tied in their category, and American Express has decided that both organizations will be receiving $200,000 in grant money. Everyone, whether a Cardmember or not, has the opportunity to vote for the charity that they think deserves funding from American Express. The second Members Project voting cycle is now open for participants to select their favorite charity vying to share $1 million in funding.

The six charitable organizations that will each receive $200,000 in funding from American Express are:  

  • Arts & Culture: National Trust for Historic Preservation and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy -- Both National Trust for History Preservation and Rails-to-Trails tied for first place. The National Trust for Historic Preservation saves America's treasures, from President Lincoln's forgotten cottage in Washington, D.C., and Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio near Chicago, to the endangered Civil War battlefields of Virginia and Native American rock art in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon. The $200,000 grant that National Trust for Historic Preservation receives will enable them to expand their online education programs and reach new, younger, and broader audiences with the preservation's message of sustainability and economic vitality. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is based in Washington, D.C. and creates a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. The $200,000 grant Rails-to-Trails Conservancy receives will allow them to provide trail maps and other information for 19,000 miles of trail on TrailLink.com, enhance trail data to Google Maps to power their new Biking Directions, assist urban communities, and provide trail-building expertise to thousands of trail-builders each year helping to put more than 9,000 more miles of trail on the ground for the future in communities nationwide.
  • Community Development: International Rescue Committee (IRC) -- Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC has over 75 years of expertise in responding to the world's worst humanitarian crises, offering lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. The $200,000 grant that the IRC receives will provide them the ability to respond quickly, deploy medical, shelter, sanitation, child trauma and other experts to the scene of a crisis, and within days, launch programs that save lives. Such funding will specifically enable the International Rescue Committee to meet the most urgent needs of vulnerable families in places like Haiti, Afghanistan and Sudan and give them the tools they need to survive and recover.
  • Education: DonorsChoose.org -- DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that connects teachers that need classroom supplies with individuals that want to help. DonorsChoose.org plans to use the grant money to support high-need classroom projects submitted by public school teachers from across the country. Sample projects range from books of nursery rhymes for a preschool classroom in California, trumpets for a middle school music program in Colorado, to chess sets for a high school in New York City. The $200,000 grant will help fund an estimated 500 classroom projects, impacting almost 15,000 students while engaging hundreds of "citizen philanthropists."
  • Environment & Wildlife: ASPCA -- ASPCA is one of the largest humane societies in the world providing effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The $200,000 grant that the ASPCA receives will allow the organization to continue their life-saving work with shelters and rescue groups across the country, providing continued support in their three core areas: community outreach, animal health services and anti-cruelty initiatives.
  • Health & Wellness: Operation Smile -- Operation Smile is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides free life-changing reconstructive surgery to children and young adults suffering from cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. The $200,000 grant that Operation Smile receives will provide the organization with means to create over 830 new smiles and new lives for children around the world suffering from facial deformities.

There will be new winners every three months and the next round is now open for participants to cast their votes. After registering for Members Project at TakePart.com/MembersProject, participants can vote once a week for a charity they think deserves financial support among a list of up to 50 charities selected by American Express and TakePart. Every three months, five charities will be chosen to each receive $200,000 in funding from American Express. There are dozens of worthy causes and the list of charities changes each voting cycle. Charities are chosen to cover cause-related interests across a diverse group of categories which include Arts & Culture, Community Development, Environment & Wildlife, Education and Health & Wellness.

Through Members Project at TakePart.com/MembersProject, people can explore today's issues and decide for themselves where and how they'd like to take action. Everyone who is at least 18 is invited to register online and vote to help decide which charities will receive funding from American Express, or volunteer their time to a worthy cause and get rewarded through Membership Rewards® Bonus Points certificates. Whether getting involved means donating an hour of time at a homeless shelter, cleaning up a park one afternoon, or donating $5 or Membership Rewards points to a charity you feel passionate about, any step, big or small, is critical to making a positive impact in the world. Participants are encouraged to rally their networks and recruit support for their favorite charity using an assortment of Members Project sharing tools, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Through TakePart's engagement platform, Members Project helps millions of people across the country to drive positive change on issues they care about. The tools offered by TakePart to support ongoing advocacy efforts around diverse issues include social networking applications, viral videos and mobile outreach.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.

About TakePart
TakePart is a content-driven social action network of people, non-profit organizations, and businesses that are working together to drive positive change on big issues like clean water, education reform, nuclear non-proliferation, and environmental protection. TakePart is driven by the idea that a good story well told can inspire people to take small steps that drive big changes. TakePart is another step in the evolution of its parent company, Participant Media, whose mission is to present entertainment that inspires and compels social change.


Contacts

Sarah Meron212.640.5503sarah.b.meron@aexp.com

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