Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund have awarded five charitable organizations located in eastern Tennessee grants of up to $50,000. The Volkswagen Community Grant Program awarded the grants to advance efforts that will provide environmental learning and leadership opportunities for local youth, help keep waterways within the Cherokee National Forest clean and provide recreational access information to people in the region.
The grants have been awarded to:
- Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for its expansion of a pilot program that provides a pathway of environmental learning, recreation and leadership experience for underserved Knoxville youth;
- WaterWays to develop 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 its 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 Conservation 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.
The Tennessee Valley Authority also contributed by providing administrative support to the program.
Volkswagen’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee produces the Passat and Atlas. The plant produced its 1 millionth vehicle in June.