Tuesday, July 03, 2007

American Express Announces Top 50 Semifinalists for The Members Project

Today, GoodBiz113 ad partner American Express® announced the top 50 project ideas selected as semifinalists for The Members Project [www.membersproject.com] -- the unique online initiative that brought American Express Cardmembers together to submit, discuss and rate ideas to make a positive impact in the world.

Cardmembers from across the country and The Members Project Advisory Panel of thought-leaders helped determine the top 50 project ideas from the thousands that were submitted. Project ideas ranged from local community-based projects throughout the United States, to international aid projects in Africa and Asia.

In the next phase of The Members Project, American Express is calling for Cardmembers to register and vote for their favorite project ideas to narrow down the list to the idea about which Cardmembers are most passionate. For every Cardmember that registers, American Express will contribute $1 toward the winning idea. American Express has committed at least $1 million and up to $5 million to bring the winning idea to life.

"Our Cardmembers are passionate about making a difference, expressing their ideas and supporting causes that are important to them -- which was clear from the more than 7,000 project ideas submitted to The Members Project," said Jud Linville, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Consumer Business, American Express. "We're encouraging all Cardmembers to make their voices heard by voting for the idea they want American Express to make a reality. The power is in their hands."

Following, is a complete list of the top 50 semifinalists. [NOTE: The Cardmember-selected project categories and project descriptions are in their own words.]

Arts & Entertainment
* "Bring Young Audiences to Live Theater -- This program aims to bring young audiences to non-profit theaters through student matinees, rush tickets and other means of making theater accessible to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend."
* "Kid's International Peace Mural Exchange -- Program to teach children conflict resolution and peer mediation through the creation of murals that are internationally exchanged."
* "Preserve Music Education in Our Schools -- While the infrastructure of music programs in schools already exists, this project proposes that The Members Project supplements adequate funding to strengthen music education."
* "Women Artists: Not in the Books? Put them Online! -- With only 2% of paintings on museum walls comprised of works by female artists, this project proposes that we transfer the established library of existing female art into a universally accessible online database."

Business & Finance
* "Inspiring Kids to Become Entrepreneurs -- Spearheaded by an award-winning filmmaker and executive producer, this project aims to create an innovative film with an interactive online component to supplement it, which will aim to inspire city teens to start their own businesses."
* "Microcredit to Businesses in Developing Countries -- This program aims to support microfinance, one of the most sustainable and effective tools in the fight against global poverty. Microfinance emerged in the 1970s as a way to offer financial services to the working poor who were previously considered 'unbankable' due to lack of collateral."

Community Development
* "50,000 Families up From Poverty -- The practice of microlending is helping to lift many families from total poverty to self-sufficiency and better lives. This project aims to help thousands of families."
* "Bringing Water to the Poorest of the Poor -- Project designed to provide water to communities in India, Africa and impoverished areas worldwide by drilling tube wells wherever needed."
* "Help African Children Orphaned by AIDS -- This project empowers communities to care for orphans living with AIDS through education and access to treatment. Additionally the program will provide food, clothing, medicine, and counseling, while developing sustainable solutions for each orphan family."
* "Helping Heal our Returning Wounded Veterans -- This project encourages community support for our troops and supplies aid to financially strained, wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."
* "Helping Wounded Soldiers Return From Iraq -- Many young women and men have been shipped to Iraq only to return with crippling injuries. This project aims to set up an organization that can teach these veterans useful skills regardless of their disabilities."
* "Microfinance Loans -- This project provides seed money for a low-interest microfinance organization to grant loans that will circulate money into poor villages. This project idea could provide a wide relief effort for years which could then be branched out to more communities in need."
* "Microloans for Mothers in Third World Countries -- Project provides financial assistance, to mothers in poverty so that they can feed their children, bring changes to their homeland and restore family values."
* "Permanent Homes for American Foster Children -- Statistics show that a staggering number of kids who 'age out' of the foster care system in America without being adopted often end up homeless, in prison, or on welfare. This program proposes the creation of a neighborhood for families willing to adopt kids out of the foster care system, including senior citizen homes whose residents would act as 'grandparents' for these kids."
* "Railroad Dining Car Restoration Project -- The goal of this project is to restore historic dining cars, sleeping cars and lounge cars to operate on a scenic railroad line. These railroad cars would be the original cars running on their original route, providing historic railroad food and service as it was in the 1950s and early 1960s. The project would partner with a local college's hotel and culinary program to provide a unique educational component."
* "RightRides: A Free Safe, Late Night Ride Home -- As a response to physical assaults on women in North Brooklyn neighborhoods, RightRides was formed in August 2004 to provide free late night rides to women in high-risk and low-income areas. The goal of this project is to provide proper funding to expand this project nationwide."
* "The Clean Hub -- In refugee camps and areas affected by natural disaster, a common policy exists that most structures must be temporary, even though they may be used for decades. This results in substandard living conditions. The Clean Hub can solve this problem, as it is a self-sustaining source for clean water, electricity and sanitation. In keeping with all policies, it can be deemed portable. But since it is self-sustaining, it can function in one place for as long as necessary with minimal maintenance."
* "Water in Africa: Need for Wells & Clean Water -- With over a billion people lacking sanitary drinking water, this project aims to provide wells and clean water to impoverished communities to promote proper hygiene and prevent diseases. Ready access to clean water also allows people to spend more time on other important tasks, such as farming and gathering food."

* "Adopt a Classroom to Support School Children -- This project is designed to motivate individuals, businesses and organizations to contribute funds to specific school teachers nationwide to enable them to purchase educational materials online which will enhance teaching opportunities in the classroom."
* "Aged Out, Kicked Out: Help Foster Kids' Futures -- With 20,000 children aging out of foster care in the U.S. each year, this project aims to create a network of mentors and programs to help children prepare for life after foster care through education, job training and life skills training."
* "Connect Kids Around the World -- This project connects kids in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia through video-teleconferencing. One of the great inequities in the world is the vastly different resources available to school children across the globe. By connecting classrooms electronically, teachers in the developed world can include students in poor classrooms in joint projects and daily lessons."
* "Interactive Museum for Children of ALL Abilities -- This project proposes an interactive museum for children of all abilities, providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to learn and socialize. While some programs will be tailored to special needs children, it will be a place for all kids to come together and build strong social skills through exhibits requiring them to work together."
* "KidsWithGive: Teach Philanthropy & Change the World -- This idea is to create a nonprofit organization to inspire children to give back by connecting them with kid-friendly charities around their passions. An online gift registry will be created where children can contribute and learn more about philanthropy."
* "Life Skills Classes in High School -- This plan proposes to create a curriculum that prepares high school kids for life beyond the classroom. Topics will cover skills that apply to real life ranging from what a credit score is and a how a high and low score can affect your life, to retirement savings and benefits of homeownership."
* "Social Mobility for Youth in Low-Wage Jobs -- This program takes a comprehensive approach to ease common barriers for hard-working, low-income youth. The youth contribute a part of their paychecks to a savings account, giving them access to support for employment training, health care, logistical needs, workshops on asset building and financial management, and planning to reach their education, career, and life goals."
* "Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn. -- This program aims to create a website where public school teachers can request specific educational projects for their classrooms, and individuals can log on to choose which projects to fund, in turn, providing educational tools for students from low-income families nationwide."

Environment & Wildlife
* "Harvest the Sun -- Every day, we get up in the morning to the largest source of energy in our lives. Every roof on every building, both residential and commercial, is a potential piece of real estate for solar power generation. The goal of this project is to get 100% self-sufficiency for the average household, depending on geographic location."
* "Plant A Million Trees: Global Reforestation -- From forest fires to rainforest destruction, to natural water disasters to overdevelopment, trees are disappearing in vast numbers all over the globe. This plan suggests planting millions of trees where they are needed most."
* "Restore Our Bee population! -- This proposal propagates a replacement for the honey bee. Approximately 85% of the fruits and vegetables that are consumed rely on pollination."
* "Save Lake Winnipesaukee! [Winni-Who?] -- Lake Winnipesaukee needs action to ensure it will always be available for drinking and recreational enjoyment. Record development has caused impairments, making this idea more urgent than ever. This project's vision is to develop and implement community strategies which effectively stop threats to water quality."
* "Small Windfarms -- This project aims to fund the installation of one or more wind generators on many small farms in appropriate places. This would place wind-power towers in rural places with lots of wind, produce power for small farmers who otherwise couldn't afford it and also provide some income when excess power is sold to the grid."
* "The Virtual Forest Project. 1 million trees. Easy. -- This program will help develop a virtual community to calculate and offset their own CO2 footprint by planting a virtual tree. 1 virtual tree = 1 real tree planted in a reforestation project. Then let them invite their friends to go carbon neutral too and invite corporate sponsors, local groups and celebrities to start their own forests or to recognize the most influential members of the virtual forest."
* "Wind and Solar for Residential -- This project plans to create a small power-generating unit that is small and powerful enough to be placed into every residential home. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a community of homes to help generate power for the power companies to use."

Health & Fitness
* "A Cure for Autism -- One in 150 children are diagnosed with autism. This project hopes to make people more aware of autism and drives to donate funds to an organization that has an interest in curing autism."
* "Alzheimer's Disease Research -- At age 85, 50% of the population will have Alzheimer's disease. Medicaid expenditures are threatening to overwhelm state budgets. Sixty percent of family caregivers die before the person for whom they are caring. These factors have created a 'perfect storm' that will devastate our healthcare systems, unless a cure and/or prevention are found."
* "Alzheimer's Research and Support -- Alzheimer's early detection and treatment/prevention is critical as is the affordability of medications, in-home assistance and care facilities. This project hopes to relieve the extreme emotional distress and financial burden that can ruin a family."
* "Aphasia Support Center [Cincinnati Area] -- This project aims to create a non-profit Aphasia Support Center in the Cincinnati area. Caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury, aphasia impacts the ability to speak, understand others, causes difficulty with reading, writing and numbers. The Aphasia Support Center would provide group therapy, activities, caregiver support and community outreach."
* "Children's Safe Drinking Water -- Four thousand children die needlessly every day from drinking contaminated water. This program aims to address this issue through an innovative and low-cost technology that effectively purifies and cleans water while removing bacteria, viruses, and parasites."
* "Cure for Alzheimer's -- The cost of caring for an Alzheimer's patient is expensive, and the number of people suffering from this disease continues to increase. This project supports the research for a cure as the disease afflicts more people every day."
* "Help Stop ALS [Lou Gehrig's Disease] -- This program seeks to provide financial assistance to the research of Lou Gehrig's Disease, or ALS [Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis]. This fatal disease attacks the motor neurons of a person's central nervous system as most patients live for an average of 5 years after diagnosis."
* "Helping Military Families with Deployment! -- This program strives to provide resources to hundreds of thousands of military children and their families as they cope with the challenges of a parent's deployment. This project will additionally provide resources for families to address complicated transitions where a parent returns with combat-related health conditions/injuries."
* "Homeless Prevention for Vets from Iraq/Afghanistan -- This program strives to provide support and assistance to returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Services include outreach to newly separated veterans and their families, outpatient counseling and case management, in-patient residential treatment services and much more."
* "Kids Alfresco -- This program plans to inspire and enable young children to enjoy active lives outdoors. Kids Alfresco promotes purpose-driven activity through everyday play -- as well as planned activities, such as hiking, camping, biking and much more. From passionate parents and volunteers to generous corporations, Kids Alfresco, through education and collaboration, will accomplish the incredible."
* "Prevent Blindness in Millions of People Worldwide! -- Millions of people are going blind around the world because of disease or medical complications of the eye. For only about five or six dollars, a person can be treated to prevent the onset of blindness, cataracts and other eye maladies. This winning project could literally save the sight of a million people or more around the world."
* "Simplify Medication Information -- Medication instructions can be especially difficult to follow because the names are hard to remember, and the instructions aren't always clear. This program aims to simplify medication instructions in the U.S. by using pictures that everyone could understand -- regardless of age, education, language, or background."
* "Treating our Troops -- This project plans to start a nationwide system of rehabilitative specialists to bridge the gap in care for troops returning from Iraq."
* "The Return of Physician as Healer -- This project looks to transform the study and practice of modern medicine through integration with traditional medicine, reviving the way of the physician as healer."

* "1 Billion People, $10/year = $10B for Social Change -- This project strives to develop an online social network that enables individuals to combine money, resources, and intellectual capital to end poverty and injustice. Members join the community with a $10 commitment. If every person tells 3 people, the program could reach the world in 16 days."
* "Awareness Can Build a Family -- An astonishing 90% of pregnancies involving diagnosis of Down Syndrome are terminated. This program will use public-service television, ads, booklets and more to share that the lives of people with Down Syndrome are just as valuable as everyone else."
* "Restore our U.S. National Parks -- The United States' National Parks and Historic Sites are in disrepair, and funding is needed to repair and refurbish. This project aims to provide funding to the landmarks that define our nation."

American Express worked with an Advisory Panel of renowned thought-leaders in a variety of fields to review the top-rated projects, as rated by the Cardmembers, and select the top 50 project ideas.
Advisory Panelists include:
* Geoff Canada -- President and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone
* Ellen DeGeneres -- Comedian and Talk Show Host
* Dr. Jane Goodall -- Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace
* Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and Neurosurgeon
* Rosabeth Moss Kanter [pictured above] -- Harvard Business School Professor
* Dr. Michael Lomax -- President and CEO, United Negro College Fund
* Wynton Marsalis -- Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center
* Gabrielle Reece -- Professional Volleyball Player and Sports/Fitness Expert

Based on popular Cardmember vote, the top 50 project ideas will be narrowed to the top 25 announced on July 17, then to the top five announced on July 24. The winning idea will be announced on August 7, and Cardmembers can register on www.membersproject.com through August 5.

American Express [www.americanexpress.com] is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850. The company has been synonymous with "Membership" since it introduced "Member Since" dates on its Card in 1964, and continues to develop a sense of membership through the special benefits and exceptional services offered to Cardmembers.

Giving back is a core value of American Express and being a "good citizen" is a hallmark of the brand. American Express was the first company to launch a cause-related marketing campaign, which was a program benefiting the Statue of Liberty in 1983, and the Company has continued to roll out successful initiatives around the world that have supported and enhanced the communities where we live and work.

Over the years, American Express has supported causes that are important to Cardmembers, merchant partners and the general public -- from reopening the Statue of Liberty after 9/11, to fighting hunger and preserving historic sites around the world. Through these programs -- including The Members Project -- American Express is providing an outlet for consumers' desire to "do good."

The Members Project, which is a part of American Express's new brand campaign, "Are You a Cardmember?" SM, highlights the value of being part of the American Express Cardmember community.

Source: American Express

Thank Clients. Reward Employees. Give American Express® Gift Cards.

No comments: