American Express and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced a multi-year partnership to increase volunteerism in National Parks and Public Lands. The $5 million grant over four years from American Express will help the Department of the Interior (DOI) and National Parks Service (NPS) build volunteer coalitions to preserve and sustain America's public lands.
This partnership directly supports Secretary Jewell's recent commitment to increase volunteerism from 322,000 to one million annually by 2017. The DOI is the steward of 20 percent of the Nation's lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands. Secretary Jewell has focused on volunteerism as a means of maintaining these public lands around the U.S. that have financial requirements that cannot always be met by government funding alone. In today's era of governmental budget austerity, volunteerism is more important than ever in maintaining these American assets.
"Community service and historic preservation have had a long heritage at American Express," said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. "Since our founding more than 160 years ago, American Express has seen how America's parks and public lands contribute to our sense of national and local identity. We are proud to lead an effort to mobilize a new generation of volunteers to protect, conserve and revitalize America's public lands and treasured national parks."
The National Park Service works hand-in-hand with communities to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in meaningful and mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities. As articulated in its five-year strategic plan, Achieving Relevance in our Second Century, the NPS identified increased volunteer engagement as a key strategy to connect communities to their parks, and ensure their continued vibrancy and relevancy.
"Magnificent landscapes and our strong volunteer ethic are part of what makes America so special and unique," Secretary Jewell said. "This partnership with American Express will be a huge boost as we create a movement to foster the next generation of leaders and outdoor stewards while helping people connect to the public lands in their community – particularly in urban areas."
American Express' multi-year grant will provide funds to create a sustainable infrastructure to allow the DOI to promote and increase volunteerism in three key ways:
Build a Volunteer Network to Serve U.S. Cities
In partnership with YMCA of the USA, the grant will create community coordinator positions in 50 U.S. cities to help develop and oversee plans for volunteer events in local parks (city, state and national properties), at historic sites and on public lands. American Express, DOI and the Y expect that these newly created positions will engage 10,000 to 20,000 volunteers in each of the 50 cities annually. The program will roll out in 25 cities in 2015, with staggered announcements for the remaining 25 cities throughout 2016. Today, American Express and the DOI announced New York City as the first city to receive funding for a coordinator of volunteers at a press conference hosted by Secretary Jewell, Timothy J. McClimon from American Express, and Neil Nicoll, president emeritus of YMCA of the USA.
Develop the 21st Century Conservation Service Corp
Funds will also support the effort to engage 100,000 young adults to serve on conservation crews on public lands by 2017. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corp will provide work experience and develop the next generation of public stewards. The effort will target community members from diverse and underserved communities and post 9/11 veterans. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corp, built on the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, will complete high quality, cost effective projects on public and tribal lands and waters across the nation.
Expand Volunteering in National Parks
American Express is also joining the National Park Foundation (NPF) in the celebration of the upcoming National Park Service centennial with a focus on engaging new volunteers. Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers help maintain trails, provide visitor services, give guided nature walks and historic tours, support preservation initiatives and deliver education programs to youth and school groups. In addition, American Express' grant will support increased public awareness efforts about America's National Parks and the critical need for volunteers. With over 400 parks, trails, and historic sites, the National Parks are not only a physical representation of the vast and diverse American landscape; they are exploration of its history, its struggle for democracy and equality, and its legacy of invention.
National parks, wildlife refuges, monuments and other public lands managed by the Department of the Interior hosted an estimated 407 million recreation visits in 2013 and that these visits alone contributed $41 billion to the economy and supported about 355,000 jobs nationwide.1
For more information on the U.S. Department of the Interior, please visit DOI.gov.
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 connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.
About the National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org
About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net