WASHINGTON, April 17, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the National Park Foundation and American Express are announcing seven grants supporting volunteer capacity-building efforts at national parks across the country. Designed to support the growth of park volunteer programs, projects funded by the grants include expansion of volunteer housing space, development of recruitment handbooks, and outreach to neighboring communities.
American Express' grant is part of the National Park Foundation's Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks. To date, this comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America's treasured national parks has raised more than $500 million in private donations from individuals, foundations, and companies.
"American Express' passion for volunteerism continues to make a huge difference in the national parks community," said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. "Capacity-building grants boost a park's ability to reach, engage, and properly train more volunteers from diverse backgrounds."
"Since our founding in 1850, American Express has advocated for programs that promote community service and civic engagement," said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. "National parks strengthen our communities, and we hope these grants will inspire the public to conserve and protect our public lands."
Hundreds of thousands of volunteers-in-parks (VIPs) serve alongside National Park Service (NPS) employees to help preserve America's most precious natural, historical, recreational, and cultural treasures and to provide crucial services to the visitors who come to enjoy parks. The NPS works hand-in-hand with communities to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in meaningful and mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities.
"Throughout the history of the National Park Service, volunteers have played a vital role in our stewardship mission and enabled us to offer exceptional recreational and inspirational experiences for generations of visitors," said NPS Deputy Director Dan Smith. "We are grateful to the National Park Foundation and American Express for helping us strengthen the VIP programs in these parks."
The grant funding will be used to:
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield (GA): Hire a shared six-month intern to assist with volunteer recruitment, training, and events and increase the diversity of the parks' volunteer corps. The grant funding will also enable the purchase of period costumes to enhance living history demonstrations.
Gateway National Recreation Area (NY): Hire an intern to coordinate the volunteer program at the Staten Island Unit; restore a volunteer building using a volunteer-based crew; and purchase outreach supplies to increase the park's capacity to engage and train volunteers.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (CA): Hire a staff member to support daily volunteer activities at Crissy Field and Marin Headlands, and help the park's Community Volunteer Ambassadors raise broader awareness about the park's Historic Landscape Volunteer Days among young, diverse communities, including veterans.
Grand Canyon National Park (AZ): Hire an intern to manage and lead a weekly clean-up program on the South Rim, engaging up to 15 volunteers at a time in four-hour shifts.
Mount Rainier National Park and Seattle Area National Park Sites (WA): Hire a coordinator to focus on underserved community volunteer engagement, build partnerships with local organizations, and develop multi-language materials about the National Park Service and national parks in the Seattle/Tacoma area.
National Mall and Memorial Parks (DC): Update the volunteer handbook, redesign the volunteer training curriculum, and conduct a pilot program of a new and improved training program.
Zion National Park (UT): Build three new RV/trailer pads for volunteers, increasing the park's ability to house long-term volunteers.
The last day of National Volunteer Week coincides with the first day of National Park Week, April 21. National Park Week is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate park volunteers, as well as invite new volunteers to the NPS community.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION Celebrating 50 years, 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 ENGAGE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years.
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.