< View all news

American Express Announces New Community Giving Grant Priorities

May 23, 2022

Since its establishment in 1954, the American Express Foundation has provided more than one billion dollars to thousands of important causes around the world. Today, the company announced new grant priorities that build on its legacy of community giving and directly support its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy launched last year. Going forward, the Foundation will direct its resources to three core priorities: 

  • Backing Equal Futures grants will help prepare youth (ages 13 – 30) for long-term success in education and the workforce of the future, promote financial literacy education, and support social advocacy to ensure equal access to education and economic opportunity.  
  • Backing Small  grants will empower economically vulnerable small business owners by providing financial support, mentoring and training, and other resources to address their critical needs and challenges.
  • Backing Low-Carbon Communities grants will advance climate innovation and solutions, particularly in urban areas, support community-led projects focused on nature-based or clean energy initiatives, and provide disaster relief and resilience building in local communities.

Non-profit organizations can review the grant criteria for these new priorities by visiting American Express’ Corporate Sustainability website found here.

“We recognize we have a responsibility to bring the powerful backing of American Express to address the pressing global challenges of today, which is why we updated our grant priorities to support and align with our three ESG pillars of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, building financial confidence and advancing climate solutions. We have a clear roadmap for how the American Express Foundation’s funding can drive impact and support meaningful change in our communities and we look forward to partnering with a range of local and global non-profits who share our goals and values,” said President of The American Express Foundation and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Madge Thomas.

Below, you can read more on how American Express has supported communities around the world since its earliest beginnings.

Photo: Destruction From the Great Boston Fire (1872), Courtesy of Boston Public Library

Crisis Relief Efforts

American Express’ first documented example of humanitarian aid for communities occurred in 1860 when the company provided complimentary shipping for essential supplies and money to victims of the famine and political violence in Kansas. Following this, the company’s first financial donation on record was a philanthropic grant that supported victims of the Great Boston Fire in 1872 and in 1917, the company contributed to the American Red Cross War Fund to support emergency medical relief during World War I. Fast forward to 1993, the company launched the “Charge Against Hunger” program with Share Our Strength to provide meals to people in need in the U.S. In 2001, American Express established the World Trade Center Disaster Relief Fund and later became a founding sponsor of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. In 2020-21, the company committed $11 million in various forms of financial support for COVID-19 relief efforts worldwide, supporting the International Medical Corps, the CDC Foundation, Feeding America, and the CODE (RED) campaign, as well as Hilton’s Hotel for Heroes campaign to provide one million free hotel rooms to healthcare workers and other first responders. Most recently, the company has responded to the Ukraine Crisis by providing more than $1 million in aid to support the humanitarian efforts of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), International Medical Corps (IMC), American Red Cross and UNICEF. 

Photo: Company Memo on Statue of Liberty Pedestal Fund (1885), Courtesy of American Express

Helping Colleagues Support Their Communities

Backing colleagues so they can back their communities is core to American Express’ culture. Dating back to 1885, American Express engaged colleagues to help raise $100,000 to complete the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. In 1972, the company launched its first employee Giving Campaign encouraging colleagues to donate to local charitable organizations. This effort evolved into an annual campaign called Give2Gether that matches donations from colleagues to global causes that are important to them. The company also activates its American Express Match program to support disaster relief efforts around the world by matching colleague donations dollar for dollar. In 1987, the company expanded its support for the AIDS crisis by creating a program for colleagues to take six-month paid sabbaticals to work with research organizations and community groups serving patients. In 2010, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, colleagues supported humanitarian aid efforts and provided pro-bono legal services to Haitians in the U.S.

Photo: World Monuments Fund Projects (1996), Courtesy of American Express

Leading International Preservation Efforts

American Express has a long history of preserving the world’s historic landmarks and cultural pastimes, and continues that legacy by supporting preservation projects that help alleviate the effects of climate change. In 1977, American Express was among the first donors to the “Save the Acropolis” campaign in Athens, Greece, providing a $30,000 grant to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 1996, the company became a founding sponsor of the World Monuments Fund’s “Watch” program, which was established to help preserve cultural heritage sites, leading to the 2007 launch of a new program focused on preservation, education, and sustainable tourism. In 2002, the American Express Foundation provided a grant for the launch of Apoyo al Artesano, a program that backs the economic development of Mayan artisans, and later in 2021 continued support for artisans by announcing a grant for Dastkar’s Artisan Support Fund to support Indian craftswomen that were severely impacted by the pandemic. Today, the company is addressing environmental challenges and backing low-carbon communities by providing $10 million in funding for projects and initiatives that advance climate solutions by 2025, including over $3 million in grants to American Forests, National Park Foundation, Save the Children and the Earthwatch Institute.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: This release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 which are subject to risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements, including the company’s aspirational ESG commitments and goals, contain words such as “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “aim,” “will,” “may,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “likely,” “commit,” “hope,” “continue,” or other similar expressions. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, including the risks and uncertainties described in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 and the company’s other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Multimedia Files:

< View all news