Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Serious Gaming With The Power Of Ideas and Networking

Sharing ideas, passions and beliefs that may help shape our future


MEMBERS PROJECT® is American Express’s quest to reach out and ask the community for suggestions for worthy causes to donate to.

NEW YORK (JULY 22, 2008) – American Express announced today the official start of this year’s
Members Project , the online initiative that invites Cardmembers to submit ideas for projects that American Express will fund with $2.5 million.

In conjunction with the launch of Members Project, American Express unveiled new survey results which showed that 96 percent of Americans feel now, more than ever, the world needs great ideas to make a positive difference; 92 percent of Americans surveyed said that they believe in the power of ideas to help change the world.

With Members Project, American Express puts the power of ideas into the hands of of Cardmembers and, whether a Cardmember or not, everyone is invited to join the discussion and nominate their favorite projects online.

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 two additional projects in the Top Five will receive $100,000 in funding.

“Every idea has the potential for greatness, particularly when a community of supporters gets behind it,” said Jud Linville, president and chief executive officer of Consumer Services, American Express.

“Today is the official kick-off of Members Project, a unique way for people to come together and share their ideas, passions and beliefs that may help shape our future. And it’s not just about ideas; it's about all participants galvanizing their own personal networks - friends, family members, colleagues - to get behind the causes that are meaningful to them.”

Members Project 2008: A Collaborative Competition Model

A collaborative competition model attracts solutions from participants around the globe. Innovators submit their ideas online and a community of supporters provides feedback on the problem and proposed solutions throughout the life of the competition. This interactive process spurs action on important issues and connects participants' solutions with key decision-makers, investors, and service providers.

From July 22 through August 19, Cardmembers will be able to submit their own ideas for projects to make a positive impact in the world and discuss, nominate and decide upon their favorite projects.

Whether a Cardmember or not, everyone is invited to participate by commenting on and nominating their favorite projects online.

Cardmembers can select one of the following categories that best fits their project submission: Arts & Culture, Community Development, Education, Environment & Wildlife and Health. Cardmembers can use photos, audio and video to enhance project submissions on the site and anyone can go online and share feedback and insights about specific projects for project submitters to consider.

This type of collaboration is greatly encouraged as submissions can be revised throughout the first four weeks of the program. In addition, there are new and easy tools to promote projects and spread the word, including online badges, widgets and banners to be posted on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Once the submission phase closes on August 19, American Express will work with an Advisory Panel of experts to review the projects and announce the Top 25 submissions on September 9. It’s up to Cardmembers to ultimately choose which projects American Express will fund.

Cardmembers can make a collective difference by casting their vote, showing their support for their favorite projects, and narrowing down to the Top Five projects starting September 30. The winning projects will be those with the most Cardmember votes, announced October 14.

Experts on Making a Difference

The Members Project Advisory Panel, a roster of thought leaders and experts in arts, community, education, the environment and health, will participate in vetting the project submissions and narrowing down the field to the Top 25 submissions. The panel is looking for projects that are innovative and achievable with a broad, positive impact, 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 - the 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
Members Project 2007 Updates

In 2007, after 8,000 project submissions and three rounds of voting, thousands of American Express Cardmembers from across US chose ”Children's Safe Drinking Water” as the winning project, and American Express provided $2 million in funding to UNICEF to bring the project to life. With funding from American Express, UNICEF has been working to promote and provide education about household water treatment and safe storage options in countries including Angola, Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

At the conclusion of the project, Members Project funding will help to significantly reduce waterborne diseases by promoting household water treatment, safe storage and a healthy environment, and will additionally provide safe water to more than 3.5 million people for at least two years.

For more information or to submit, discuss and vote on projects, visit