As American Express expands its presence in Detroit as the official credit card provider for the newly merged Delta and Northwest Airlines, the company is enhancing its long-standing commitment to the metro Detroit area through the launch of a year-long philanthropic program.

The program, entitled “Travel with Your Mind,” is designed to help revitalize Osborn College Preparatory Academy, located in Detroit, through a series of transformational projects and multi-cultural initiatives. The first project at Osborn will take place on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 from 3 to 7 p.m.

American Express will work with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the nation, to implement the organization’s signature HandsOn Schools program, which aims to reestablish schools as the focal point of the community. Throughout the school year, American Express will engage its employees, Delta and Northwest employees, as well as the broader community to perform a series of “Travel with Your Mind” projects at Osborn College Preparatory Academy, a Detroit Public School. The “Travel with Your Mind” theme was selected to help expose students to the new possibilities travel creates through a series of travel-related projects and multicultural initiatives – without the students ever leaving their own backyard.

For the first project, volunteers will help perform a variety of transformational activities at Osborn from painting travel-related murals and classrooms to putting together book shelves and outdoor beautification.

“As we focus on turning around local high schools that have graduation rates of 60 percent or less, we know lasting change will only be possible through powerful partnerships,” said Mike Tenbusch, vice president of Educational Preparedness at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We are excited about the spark of imagination that the ‘Travel with Your Mind’ projects will give the students of Osborn.”

The projects for Osborn were decided upon in advance at a “Design Day” meeting at which key community members discussed and selected proposed revitalization projects based on the school’s needs. Two additional projects are scheduled to take place at Osborn during the winter and spring semesters, which will be announced in early 2010.

In addition to Detroit, American Express is also working with HandsOn Network to bring the “Travel with Your Mind” program to Memphis, Minneapolis and Seattle, where similar projects will be executed throughout the year.  Overall, American Express’ “Travel with Your Mind” program in all four cities is expected to deliver more than 500 volunteers, 1,500 volunteer hours and contributions totaling more than $350,000.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the first project at Osborn College Preparatory Academy on Friday, Sept. 11 can register at http://volunteer.united-e- way/uwsem/volunteer.


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