- 1998-2001: Pilot program running in Montana & Washington D.C.
- 2002: Ford Motor Company awards the initial, generous grant that set Provider Pals© in motion.
- 2002-Present: Program expands to include 325 classrooms and 8000 students in cities throughout the nation.
- May, 2004: The Preserve America Council, chaired by John Nau III, awards Provider Pals© with one of four inaugural “Preserve America Presidential Awards.” The President and First Lady presented the award in a May 3, Oval Office ceremony.
- June, 2005: Provider Pals holds its first ‘Tribute Dinner’ in Washington, D.C.
- Sept, 2005: Believing that Education has no borders, Provider Pals© and the B.C. Truck Loggers Association elevate the program to an international status.
Provider Pals© began as a pilot project in Montana in 1997. During the 1997/98 school year, the pilot project included a number of small and large towns throughout the state such as Billings, Missoula, Libby and Thompson Falls. The classrooms included kindergarten through the eighth grade.
In 1999, Bruce Vincent was visiting Washington, DC, and decided to see if the program had any potential in a real urban setting. Using an incredibly scientific method, Bruce walked east of the U.S. Capital building on Pennsylvania Avenue until he found a school. Upon entering Hine Junior High School, Bruce located the Principal’s office and asked the Principal if he would be interested in having classrooms in the school adopt a provider. The enthusiastic response led to a multi-year involvement of Hine Junior High students and providers from all over America.
In 2002, Provider Pals©, Inc. formed and approached Ford Motor Company for support to enlarge the pilot program from the meager beginnings in Montana and one urban setting. Ford Motor Company recognized the need for this innovative approach to building a bridge of cultural understanding in our increasingly urbanized society and made an incredible donation of $1.5 million over three years. That year, Provider Pals began functioning as a four part program in five cities across the United States. The program has since expanded to include over 300 classrooms in 20 cities across the nation and Canada!
The program has not only been received well by schools and students, it has also received great reviews from the media and recognition from prestigious organizations such as the Preserve America Advisory Council. In an Oval Office ceremony on May 3rd, 2004 President and First Lady Bush presented the President's Award to Provider Pals© executive director Bruce Vincent. Provider Pals© was nominated by the Kootenai National Forest Supervisor Bob Castenada, who also attended. Provider Pals was nominated for its national youth cultural exchange program and its partnership with Communities for a Great Northwest (CGNW) through which they have restored an abandoned, CCC-built ranger station The ranger station is now called Historic Raven Natural Resource Learning Center and it is the headquarters for the “Urban to Rural Exchange/Summer Camp” portion of the program.
The Presidential Award is given to honor exemplary accomplishments in the sustainable use, preservation, and integration of cultural or natural heritage assets into contemporary community life. Award winners display innovative, creative, and responsible approaches to showcasing historic resources in communities.
In June of 2005, Provider Pals held their first Tribute Dinner in Washington, DC. The dinner, organized to celebrate the success of the Presidential award winning cultural exchange program, was held on Capitol Hill. It was here that Ford Motor Company not only donated a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid as a door prize for the event, but they also announced their continued commitment to the Provider Pals program. Ford Motor company and other ‘Tribute Dinner’ sponsors such as the Truck Loggers Association of British Columbia, Pacific Forest Foundation, Encana, the American Forest and Paper Association, Silver Eagle Distributors of Houston, Texas, and the Montana Ford Dealers Association allowed the program to sustain current levels of programming and also broaden Provider Pal’s into cities such as Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, and Campbell River and Vancouver, British Columbia. Provider Pals became an international program.
April of 2007 will mark the opening of the online virtual gaming site, “Provider World” and Provider Pal’s first ever “Celebrate Earth Day Celebration”.