Driving a Bigger Commitment to Environment and Community

Volkswagen logoVolkswagen, one of the world’s largest automakers, is demonstrating its commitment to environmental and corporate responsibility to reflect its “Drive Bigger” goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves. To help drive this initiative, Volkswagen is sponsoring The Conservation Fund to help protect forests near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Volkswagen has a manufacturing plant and is one of the region’s leading employers.


  • Give back to a region where around 3,800 Volkswagen employees live, work and play.
  • Be a good neighbor in a community that is a home for Volkswagen and plans to be well into the future as Chattanooga becomes the company’s North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles.

VW Forest3Cherokee National Forest. Photo by VW.


In 2019, Volkswagen and The Conservation Fund launched an initiative to help protect land adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest, located near Volkswagen’s facility in Chattanooga. Through a donation from Volkswagen, The Conservation Fund will acquire approximately 1,500 acres that will then be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service, which manages Cherokee National Forest, for permanent protection.

VW road
Photo by VW

The Conservation Fund has worked with government agencies, nonprofits and businesses large and small to help protect more than 300,000 acres in Tennessee and help build greener cities and economies. Our decades of experience in the state made us a natural partner to help Volkswagen achieve its goals.

In addition to supporting land conservation, Volkswagen’s sponsorship will enable The Conservation Fund to create a community grant program to support nonprofits, schools and public agencies working in eastern Tennessee to help improve water quality, increase access to outdoor recreation, and advance environmental education. Working together with Volkswagen, The Conservation Fund will administer and manage a grant program, with support from the Tennessee Valley Authority that will deliver measurable and lasting benefits to Tennessee’s natural resources. The Tennessee Valley Authority, having been a steward of natural resources in Tennessee since 1933, welcomes the opportunity to engage with Volkswagen and The Conservation Fund on this endeavor. The first round of grants was awarded in 2020. 

"We are enthused about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability. Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work."
Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund   


The 650,000-acre Cherokee National Forest stretches the length of eastern Tennessee’s border, with lands north and south of the Greater Smoky Mountain National Park. The forest is home to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and other whitewater and wilderness areas. The land added by The Conservation Fund and Volkswagen at Cherokee National Forest will enhance efforts to help improve water quality, access to public recreation, environmental education, and habitat for the black bear and the endangered Indiana bat.

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.

Our work with The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live. This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our ‘Drive Bigger’ goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action. We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good

– Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America

VW hikingCherokee National Forest. Photo by VW.

Looking Forward

Tennessee is just the start. Volkswagen and The Conservation Fund are committed to protecting natural resources and developing community programs that benefits Volkswagen’s customers, dealers and employees.