In November, Volkswagen reinforced its corporate commitment to sustainability by establishing a $200,000 community grant program toward conservation efforts in eastern Tennessee in partnership with The Conservation Fund. After soliciting grant requests of up to $50,000 from local nonprofits, schools and public agencies, the company is pleased to announce the five charitable organizations that were selected for sponsorship.
The funds will be used toward promoting environmental education for local youth, enhancing local watershed quality, and improving access to public lands for recreational use in Eastern Tennessee where the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant is located, and thousands of Volkswagen employees reside.
The grant recipients include:
- Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, for the expansion of a successful pilot program that provides a pathway of environmental learning, recreation, and leadership experiences for underserved Knoxville youth;
- WaterWays, for the development of an environmental educational program—including outdoor classroom and interpretive nature trail—for local K-12 students;
- National Forest Foundation, for a program that brings youth from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma to their ancestral homelands in the Cherokee National Forest for several weeks of learning, service, and exploration;
- Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, for river cleanups with volunteers that raise awareness for conservation of waterways and showcase the vastness of the Cherokee National Forest spanning from Watauga Lake to the Ocoee River, and;
- Partners of Cherokee National Forest, for a refresh of a popular regional outdoor recreation map that shows access locations to all federal and state public land near the Cherokee National Forest.
The initiative is part of a broader of a $1.25 million company commitment to help protect and restore forestland across America, starting with Tennessee. The remaining funds will be used by the Fund to buy, conserve, and donate approximately 1,500 acres of land to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Cherokee National Forest.
The goal is for the additional lands, which are located near the assembly plant, to be open to the public for outdoor recreation use and to help protect the habitats of local animal populations, including the black bear and the endangered Indiana bat.
“We applaud these exemplary organizations for their expanded efforts to maintain and enhance access to the Cherokee National Forest’s many recreational, educational and inspiring offerings,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “We are honored to support their efforts and are grateful for Volkswagen’s commitment to help protect the environment and support the communities in which they work.”