- Assets: $2,205,372 (2012)
- Grants Received: $0 (2012)
- Grants Awarded: $8,711,000 (2012)
Incorporated in 1954, the American Express Foundation (AEF) is the philanthropic arm of the American Express Corporation. While many of AEF's grants are non-political in nature, a substantial number are awarded to organizations that promote left-wing agendas. The Foundation's philanthropy is divided into three major programs:
(1) The Community Service program supports groups that seek to cultivate “meaningful opportunities” for citizens generally—and American Express employees in particular—to practice “civic engagement” as volunteers, donors, voters, or patrons. Its most noteworthy initiative is the Disaster Relief project, which focuses on the delivery of humanitarian aid to victims of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural as well as man-caused disasters. From 2004-14, American Express and its Foundation provided assistance for victims of more than 50 disasters in 35 countries—mainly by means of donations to the American Red Cross, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the United Nations World Food Program.
The Community Service program's motto is a quote by Children's Defense Fund creator Marian Wright Edelman: “Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”
(2) The Historic Preservation program gears its philanthropy toward “saving and sustaining historic landmarks and public spaces,” for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. In pursuit of this objective, American Express was a founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch program in 1995, and has long been a major supporter of the World Monuments Fund. Between 2000 and 2015, American Express and its Foundation helped preserve some 154 sites in 70 countries. Among these were St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Ruta de la Amistad in Mexico City, the former city of Sawara in Japan's Kanto region, the Route 66 highway corridor that runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, and the Chilean territory of Easter Island.
(3) The Leadership program provides funding for organizations that cultivate “future nonprofit leaders”—especially nonwhites from “diverse communities”—by teaching them a wide variety of “leadership skills.” A signature initiative of this program is the American Express Leadership Academy, which was founded in 2008 and works closely with: (a) the Center for Creative Leadership, based in New York and several other U.S. cities; (b) the Thunderbird School of Global Management (Glendale, Arizona); (c) Common Purpose, whose London and New Delhi locations have trained more than 30,000 people in 11 countries since 1989; (d) the Japan Philanthropic Association, a Tokyo-based entity that organizes seminars and networking opportunities; (e) Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Community (Tokyo); and (f) Ashoka, a New York-based organization whose objective is to “enabl[e] the world's citizens” to “think and act as changemakers.”
In November 2011, AEF co-hosted—with the Obama administration's Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships and Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation—a forum focusing on “the critical need for strong leaders in the nonprofit sector.”
American Express and its Foundation place a strong emphasis on “employee-driven philanthropy,” where people who work for the company are encouraged to engage in community service. Moreover, the company and Foundation administer a “gift matching program” that in 2014 generated more than $6.67 million in funds to match charitable donations made by employees.
Another philanthropic initiative of American Express is its Serve2Gether Consulting program, which dispatches teams of AmEx employees to provide pro-bono consulting services to nonprofit organizations.
A key division of AEF's Office of Corporate Social Responsibility is its Office of Environmental Responsibility, whose mission is to “take an objective look at the practices throughout our company and identify areas in which we can become more environmentally friendly.” On the premise that carbon emssions associated with human industrial activity contribute heavily to what AEF views as the potentially catastrophic phenomenon of global warming, the Foundation in 2007 made a commitment to “reduce our carbon footprint by 10 percent” within five years.
Among the noteworthy left-wing beneficiaries of AEF grants are the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Women's Policy Studies, the Children's Defense Fund, Earth Share, Greenpeace, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the National Council of La Raza, the National Organization for Women's Legal Defense & Education Fund, the National Urban League, Planned Parenthood, and the Urban Institute.
To view a list of additional AEF grantees, click here.
AEF's current president is Tim McClimon, who also serves as the American Express Company's vice president for corporate social responsibility. Prior to joining American Express, McClimon had been the executive director of both the AT&T Foundation and the Second Stage Theatre in New York City.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)