Enterprise donates $30 million to support rivers, watersheds

Nov. 13, 2017
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation today announced a $30 million donation to The Nature Conservancy, a global nonprofit organization that works to address critical conservation challenges around the world.
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation today announced a $30 million donation to The Nature Conservancy, a global nonprofit organization that works to address critical conservation challenges around the world. The five-year donation – called the “Routes & Roots: Enterprise Healthy Rivers Project” – helps support The Nature Conservancy’s long-term water resource management initiatives and is expected to benefit 150 million people.
“Blue Infrastructure”  The project highlights the strategic importance of “blue infrastructure” – rivers and regional watersheds – which not only supply drainage and outflow for rainfall and streams, but also strengthen habitats and farmlands, generate renewable energy and provide cost-efficient transportation options. “This contribution is one of the biggest gifts we have received in many years,” said Mark Tercek, President and Chief Executive Officer for The Nature Conservancy. “It will benefit both people and wildlife across two continents, while facilitating the sharing of best practices to drive global progress in conservation. This effort to preserve great rivers is about more than just protecting fresh water today – it also demonstrates Enterprise’s leadership, vision and commitment to making a difference for the long term.” Founded in 1982, the private Enterprise Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand and Enterprise Holdings, the world’s largest car rental company and an industry leader in transportation and travel. Carolyn Kindle Betz, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Foundation, made today’s announcement from the company’s world headquarters in St. Louis. “Our philanthropic focus is not always directly related to our business, but instead reaches beyond to make a difference and improve the quality of life wherever our employees and customers live and work,” noted Kindle Betz, granddaughter of the late Jack Taylor, who founded Enterprise 60 years ago in St. Louis. “We’re thrilled to support and partner with a world-class organization like The Nature Conservancy in this effort to help ensure that healthy rivers continue to enrich our lives for generations to come.”

The Nature Conservancy will use the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation’s $30 million donation to help protect and preserve four major rivers and watersheds across North America and Europe:

  • Mississippi River (U.S.) — One of the world’s longest and most iconic rivers, the Mississippi flows through the heart and history of North America, from the pine woods of northern Minnesota, through the rich, dark Delta soil to the Gulf of Mexico – a more-than-2,300-mile journey that spans 40 percent of the United States. Enterprise’s gift will support partnerships with farmers, ranchers and communities in the basin to help reduce the amount of excess nutrient runoff that enters the river system and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. Decreasing nutrient runoff will help ongoing efforts to minimize the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone,” a massive area of water that chokes marine life, hampers recreation and tourism, and jeopardizes some of North America’s most productive fisheries.
  • Colorado River (U.S.) — Over time, the mighty Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon into the ancient sandstone of the American Southwest. Today, it is one of the most important water systems in the United States, flowing from high in the Rocky Mountains through watersheds in seven states and two countries on its way to the Gulf of California. The Nature Conservancy is working with water users throughout the Colorado Basin to sustainably manage this important river, develop innovative ways to conserve water and restore watersheds. This will better support the River’s natural ability to sustain years of drought and increased water demand while still providing for nature and people.
  • Canada — A vast mosaic of forests, rivers, lakes, and wetlands, Canada’s Boreal Forest is home to more surface freshwater than any other ecosystem on earth. It is also home to more than 600 Indigenous communities who have depended on, and cared for, this vital global resource for thousands of years. In a region of northwestern Manitoba that includes the mighty Churchill and Saskatchewan rivers, The Nature Conservancy, with its Canadian affiliate TNC Canada, is partnering with several First Nations as they work to increase their leadership and authority around decisions regarding natural resources in their traditional territories. These efforts help ensure that the full economic, cultural, and environmental value of their traditional lands and waters are realized to the benefit of all.
  • Europe — Across thousands of years of European history, the Danube, the Sava and other major rivers of the Balkan Peninsula have been silent witnesses to the rise and fall of one powerful empire after another. Today they are a vital source of another sort of power – hydroelectric power that supports communities and industries throughout the region. Partnerships under this initiative will help create and implement a sustainable development model that makes conservation values an integral part of renewable energy planning for the Western Balkans’ rivers and lands. This will support balanced watershed management decisions for European countries that will reduce the current threats undermining river health, biodiversity, and water security.

$175 Million in Global Philanthropic Initiatives
 In addition to the “Routes & Roots: Enterprise Healthy Rivers Project,” two other Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation initiatives are directly or indirectly connected to healthy and sustainable watershed management:

  • “Enterprise 50 Million Tree Pledge” — In 2006, in honor of Enterprise's 50th anniversary, Enterprise partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation on a pledge to fund the planting of 50 million trees by 2056 throughout the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. By the end of this year, 12 million trees will have been planted. Trees provide significant benefits to ensure healthy rivers and watersheds by absorbing and removing harmful chemicals, filtering sediment during storms, and providing shade and wildlife habitat. ($50 million)
  • Enterprise “Fill Your Tank” Program — Just last year, in honor of the company’s 60th anniversary, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation launched this initiative to address food insecurity around the globe through a partnership with Feeding America, Food Banks Canada, The Global FoodBanking Network, and local food banks and pantries in North America. Healthy watersheds are critical to producing enough food for a growing world population. That’s especially important at a time when one in nine people don’t have enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. ($60 million)

Other major philanthropic initiatives include the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels ($35 million) and the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program ($1 million annually). These five ongoing Foundation commitments and donations collectively total more than $175 million.
“My family and our company have deep roots in St. Louis, and one of the world’s greatest rivers runs right through our hometown,” said Kindle Betz. “But in light of Enterprise’s international expansion, it was important that this gift benefit communities and their surrounding environment worldwide. We hope it will help more and more people understand and support the critical role rivers play in our lives.”
“We believe that understanding will lead to respect,” she said. “And what people respect, they will also protect.”

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