Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund announced the winners of the Volkswagen Community Grant Program. Five charitable organizations located in eastern Tennessee received grants of up to $50,000 to advance efforts that will provide environmental learning and leadership opportunities for local youth, help keep rivers and waterways within the Cherokee National Forest clean, and provide current recreational access information for outdoor lovers in the region.
The Volkswagen Community Grants have been awarded to:
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 the update of a popular regional outdoor recreation map that shows access locations to all federal and state public land near the Cherokee National Forest.
“We are committed to being good stewards of the environment especially in our production home of Tennessee,” said Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Volkswagen of America. “Working with The Conservation Fund, we are proud to help these great organizations improve access and education related to our greatest natural resources.”
The Volkswagen Community Grant Program is part of an ongoing initiative to help protect and restore forestland in the United States, starting in eastern Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest. A portion of Volkswagen’s $1.25 million donation to The Conservation Fund was awarded via the program. 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 later this year, helping to protect wildlife habitat and cultural resources, improve water quality, and provide additional recreation access and environmental education.
“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."
TVA, a steward of natural resources in Tennessee since 1933, also contributed by providing administrative support to the Program.
For more information on the collaboration, visit https://www.conservationfund.org/our-work/business-partnerships/our-partners/volkswagen.