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American Express® Cardmembers Vote ’’Alzheimer’s Disease: Early Detection Matters’’ the Winner of Members Project® to Receive $1.5 Million in Funding from American Express


Organizations Associated with Four Additional Top-Voted Projects Share $1 Million

NEW YORK.- American Express announced today “Alzheimer’s Disease: Early Detection Matters” as the winner of Members Project (, the online initiative that invited Cardmembers to come together to submit, discuss and vote for projects to make a positive impact in the world. American Express is funding the top winning projects with a total of $2.5 million. The Alzheimer’s project, submitted by Cardmember Jay Smith of Falls Church, Virginia, received the highest number of Cardmember votes and the top prize of $1.5 million in funding to put this winning project into action, helping to educate people about the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s. Based on Cardmember votes, American Express will give the additional finalist projects a total of $1 million in funding that will positively impact millions of lives around the world, in the areas of education, microfinance, hunger and malnutrition.

The winning project, “Alzheimer’s Disease: Early Detection Matters,” is paired with the Alzheimer’s Association and was submitted by American Express Cardmember Jay Smith in honor of his wife Patty, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51. Smith’s project aims to educate people about the 10 signs of early detection and “show the importance of seeking an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s…giving people options for treatment and a better quality of life.”

Based on Cardmember votes, the remaining finalists that will receive funding from American Express to help make a positive impact in the world are*:

* $500,000 Award Recipient: “Help 100,000 children thrive in the classroom!” is paired with, and was submitted by American Express Cardmember Melanie Duppins of Temple Hills, Md. “In urban and rural communities around the country, family income often determines a child’s educational opportunities. This project can provide children in low-income communities with books, art supplies, technology and other materials for a rigorous education.”

* $300,000 Award Recipient: “Loans That Change Lives” is paired with Kiva Microfunds, and was submitted by American Express Cardmember Rupa Modi of Yardley, Pa. “This project is an internet-based platform that allows everyday people to become ’social investors.’ With $25, a credit card and an internet connection, anybody can invest in the life of a deserving entrepreneur. Lenders can sort pre-screened businesses by region, culture, or business category, and see a photo and profile of the person they are supporting.”

* $100,000 Award Recipient: “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children” is paired with International Medical Corps, and was submitted by American Express Cardmember Paige Strackman of Brooklyn, N.Y. “Giving starving children food is not enough; the food needs to contain the vitamins, micronutrients and calories a developing child needs to survive. New ready-to-use food (RUF) is individually packaged, is stable in hot climates, does not need to be mixed with water (no risk of contamination) and even tastes good. With this treatment there is simply no reason for children to die of starvation anymore.”

* $100,000 Award Recipient: “Feeding 1 Million Children Daily” is paired with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, and was submitted by American Express Cardmember Nishith Acharya of Boston, Mass. “There are amazing school lunch programs in India that are feeding several million children daily -- providing them with their only full meal of the day and creating strong incentives to attend and stay in school, particularly for young girls. Through the innovative use of technology and supply chain management, these programs can feed children for less than $30 a year.”

Since July, Cardmembers have come together to make their voices heard about which projects they believe can help change the world, using photos, videos and social networking tools such as widgets and banners for sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Participants rallied their own personal networks to get behind the projects that meant the most to them, and whether a Cardmember or not, everyone was invited to participate by commenting on and generating support for their favorite projects online.

In 2007, American Express provided $2 million in funding to UNICEF to bring the project “Children’s Safe Drinking Water” to life, helping to significantly reduce waterborne diseases by promoting household water treatment, safe storage and a healthy sanitation habits. This project continues and through funding from Members Project, UNICEF is able to provide safe water to more than 3.9 million people in four countries for at least two years.

For more information on the winning projects or the top five projects from last year, visit


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