Deliver Your News to the World

American Express Announces Top 25 Projects Competing for $2.5 Million in Funding Through Member’s Project®


Cardmember Vote Will Determine Which Projects Advance to Top Five

NEW YORK.- American Express unveiled today the top 25 projects selected as semi-finalists for Members Project (, the online initiative that invites Cardmembers to come together to submit, discuss and vote for projects to make a positive impact on the world that American Express will fund with $2.5 million. Since July, people from across the country and the Members Project Advisory Panel helped determine the top 25 projects from the more than one thousand projects that were submitted. Now it’s up to Cardmembers to determine which projects advance to the top five. The first round of voting starts today and ends on September 29.

Over the past month, Cardmembers came together to share their ideas that may help shape our future. Photos and videos were used to enhance project submissions on the site and tools were available to help promote projects and spread the word, including online badges, widgets and banners to post on sites like Facebook and MySpace. Participants rallied their own personal networks to get behind the projects that mean the most to them and the blog buzz and social community posts and discussions grew week after week, encouraging project nominations. Whether a Cardmember or not, everyone was invited to participate by commenting on and nominating their favorite projects online. The network support behind each project significantly contributed to American Express’ determination of the top 25.

The voting is now in the hands of Cardmembers to select the top five projects. Cardmembers can vote for their favorite project by registering at and clicking on the star next to the project of their choice. Cardmembers may vote once during each voting phase but everyone, even those without an American Express® Card, can use the many social networking tools and online discussion boards to raise awareness and spur dialogue about their favorite project. The top 5 projects that receive the most votes will advance to the next phase and, ultimately, the organization associated with the project with the most votes as determined by Cardmember votes will receive $1.5 million in funding, and the organizations associated with the remaining four projects will receive $500,000, $300,000 or $100,000 in funding from American Express based on the Cardmember votes.

The top 25 selected projects impact both national and global communities and range from education and public service programs to health and environmental issues. Below are descriptions of each project as provided by the submitting Cardmembers.


* “ASHA - The Livelihood Programme for millions: More than 10 million artisans globally live under poverty, but their art has always been the centre of attraction for masses. My model integrates the credit, production and marketing activities for these artisans, helping them to create sustainable livelihoods.”

* “End Human Trafficking: Sustainable Livelihoods: This locally driven social venture creates an alliance of textile designers and gifted artisans in Southeast Asia to produce luxurious, environmentally-sustainable hand-woven fabrics. By providing economic opportunity, we help preserve hand-weaving in Asia.”

* “Help Women and Children Survivors of War Rebuild: Provide women survivors of war the opportunity and the tools to rebuild their lives, and their families’ and children’s lives, with job skills and agribusiness training, financial assistance, microcredit loans and access to markets.”

* “Loans That Change Lives: 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. With $1.5M, we hope to expand our selection of businesses to fund.”

* “Stop the traffic! (Human Trafficking): “Stop the traffic” kits will be community organizing tools to help end human trafficking. Targeting communities with high rates of trafficking here and abroad, these multi-lingual kits will include awareness, educational and resource information.”


* “6,000 Girls’ Scholarships in the Developing World: Fund primary and secondary school scholarships for 6,000 young women in the developing world. $250 can provide a young girl in developing countries through a holistic one-year scholarship, helping to break the cycle of poverty for generations to come.”

* “Advancing Education in Rural Cambodia: Construct environmentally friendly, economically sustainable, community managed secondary schools in rural Cambodia that employ highly trained teachers and offer solid academic courses and job skills to break the cycle of poverty.”

* “Help 100,000 children thrive in the classroom!: In urban and rural communities around the country, family income often determines a child’s educational opportunities. Provide 100,000 children in low-income communities books, art supplies, technology and other materials for a rigorous education.”

* “Helping Poor Mayans to Help Themselves: Help poor Mayans in Guatemala to help themselves through education, vocation and sustainable development projects. In Guatemala there are no government and social programs to assist the poor, who are at the level of ‘extreme poverty,’ defined by author Jeffery Sach as ‘when every day is a struggle just to be alive.’”

* “Jharkhand Tribal Project: Jharkhand, India is the most economically backward state with a large tribal population, poor infrastructure, no electricity or drinking water. Jharkhand Tribal Project aims to build seven elementary schools, one middle/high school and one teacher training school to provide tribal children and adults with free holistic education.”


* “Marine Conservation & Awareness- Pacific Solo Row: A daring solo row across the Pacific Ocean to explain a broad range of environmental issues that affect our ocean. The Pacific Voyage project is a three-stage challenge, launched in May 2008, covering 7,600 miles from California to Australia, to document the challenges our ocean faces and produce inspirational materials to educate the public and begin a ripple of change.”

* “Protect Cocos Island - World Heritage Site: Cocos Island lies over 300 miles west of Costa Rica (CR), and was inscribed by the UN as a World Heritage Site, a place of outstanding natural importance to the common heritage of humanity, but it is now under threat. A “Virtual Cocos” exhibit will provide a breathtaking display of the beauty and the looming environmental crisis, providing a powerful tool to help conserve Cocos.”

* “Rebuilding New Orleans Green: Help 10,000 or more residents of New Orleans rebuild their homes with energy efficient, healthy materials that lower monthly bills; create green schools where students have higher test scores and lower asthma rates; and adopt a neighborhood in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans by creating a ‘green village’ with affordable homes, community services and solar power.”

* “Solar Powered Africa-LED Lanterns Lighting the Way: Provide solar-powered LED (Light Emitting Diode) lanterns to rural, war-torn regions of Sierra Leone. LED lights have shown to be a reliable and sustainable source of light with over 50,000 hours of available life, making up for the lack of infrastructure in this region. With $1.5m, we aim to provide approximately 20,000 lanterns, which could positively affect nearly 100,000 people.”


* “Alzheimer’s Disease: Early Detection Matters: The earlier people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the sooner they can get the help they need. Too few people know the ten early warning signs. Create and implement an education program to show the importance of seeking an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, a progressive and fatal disease.”

* “$25 Infant Incubator: We want to produce a $25 incubator designed for the developing world. The product is an extremely cost-effective incubator device that requires no electricity and provides heat to an infant at a constant temperature, the key factor needed for survival. It has no moving parts, and is designed to work in rural healthcare centers and households.”

* “Feeding 1 Million Children Daily: 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. Through the innovative use of technology and supply chain management, these programs can feed children for less than $30 a year.”

* “Kids for Sight: Ending childhood blindness – India: My son and daughter have made it a family project to raise money to create pediatric eye care clinics in India, part of a multi-million dollar charitable project to screen five million children for eye health and provide care to 725,000. By also involving their classmates and other children, they’re sharing the message that giving makes the world a better place.”

* “Mobile Pediatric Orthopaedic Education: MoPOEd is a program that allows experts in pediatric orthopaedics to teach local physicians in the developing world to care for children with orthopaedic problems. The training is on-site and uses locally available materials and implants, providing a customized curriculum and teaching the local physicians to teach others in order to provide sustainable care.”

* “My Little Waiting Room: Help families who need medical care AND child care. My Little Waiting Room will bring drop-in child care to the hospital so a lack of child care will never get in the way of medical care. Kids need a safe, fun place to thrive when their family is hurting.”

* “New, Affordable Treatments with Existing Drugs: Rapidly develop affordable new therapies for major diseases by conducting clinical trials with combinations of generic or unpatented substances. Without evidence from trials, doctors will be reluctant to prescribe such medicines and health insurance will not cover their cost. This idea could reduce suffering and save millions of lives within a few years.”

* “Project Brain Child: There are over 120 different types of pediatric brain tumors, the #1 cause of solid tumor cancer deaths in children, making effective treatment virtually impossible. Project Brain Child proposes to conduct a feasibility study to create a National Pediatric Genomic Brain Tumor Registry, which would allow medical experts to target specific genetic abnormalities with existing drugs most effectively.”

* “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children: 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.”

* “The 3G Project: Teach health education to pre-school age kids living in disadvantaged homes while parents and/or grandparents are present to also learn in a non-threatening setting. Kids hear the information early and all generations can work together to make healthy choices.”

* “Using the Power of Soccer to Fight AIDS in Africa: Delivering sports-based HIV prevention and life skills training to African children, arming them with the knowledge and support they need to live HIV-free, using an interactive curriculum that has proven effectiveness in the field. Since 2003, over 270,000 youth in 14 African countries have benefited from this model. $1.5M will reach over 500,000 youth with evidence-based HIV prevention messaging.”

To vet project submissions and help narrow the field to the top 25 projects, American Express established the Members Project Advisory Panel, a roster of thought leaders and experts in arts, community, education, the environment and health. Panelists considered innovativeness, feasibility and breath of impact to help American Express narrow down the projects to the top 25, and Cardmembers will ultimately vote on the winning projects.

The Members Project 2008 Advisory Panel includes:

* Geoffrey Canada – President & Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone
* Mike Feinberg – Superintendent & Co-Founder of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation
* Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE – Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
* Dr. Sanjay Gupta – Neurosurgeon & CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
* Judith Jamison – Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
* Craig Kielburger – Founder & Chair, Free The Children
* Vanessa Kirsch – President & Founder of New Profit Inc.
* Dr. Michael L. Lomax – President & CEO, UNCF-United Negro College Fund
* Dr. Wangari Maathai – 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate & Founder - Greenbelt Movement
* Gail Sheehy – Author & Journalist
* Edward Skloot – Director, Center for Strategic Philanthropy & Civil Society, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University
* Jeanette Takamura, M.S.W., Ph.D. – Dean & Professor of Social Work, Columbia University

The second voting round takes place from September 30 through October 13, and the winning projects will be announced October 14. The votes of all participating Cardmembers will determine which five projects will receive $2.5 million in funding from American Express. This year, American Express will fund five winning projects; the top project will receive $1.5 million, the second place project will receive $500,000, the third place project will receive $300,000 and the remaining two finalist projects in the top five will receive $100,000 in funding.


This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.