Community-Based Grant Program

General Criteria

The Foundation awards grants through an annual application process through which nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and municipalities located in Union Pacific communities may apply. Applications are accepted only through the online process.

Copies of the application mailed to the Foundation will be returned.

The Foundation does not provide leadership gifts or support requests for which it is asked to be the sole funder. An organization is allowed to complete only one application for only one program/project during the open application process.

Applications undergo a competitive review process. A Foundation invitation to submit an application in no way guarantees funding of that request. The Foundation receives a multitude of grant requests for worthwhile projects every year; unfortunately we cannot fund every worthy request. The volume of funding requests received also precludes providing individual critiques of unsuccessful requests.

To see recent grants awarded to organizations in your state or community, please visit our Community News Releases section and look for your state.

Who Can Apply

The Foundation requires that an organization be located in a community served by Union Pacific Railroad, is a 501(c)(3) public charity as identified by the IRS, or municipality requesting funds exclusively for public purposes, and falls within one of the two areas of interest outlined below.

Where Union Pacific Operates

  1. Union Pacific Community: The community where the organization is based must be served by Union Pacific Railroad. (If you are uncertain, use the map to the right to search for your community.) Your community must be located on or be reasonably close to these railroad lines. The Foundation does not accept applications from organizations located outside the Union Pacific served area even though the intent may be to operate a program in a Union Pacific community or county.
  2. Public Charity or Municipality: The organization must have a current 501(c)(3) public charity status and further, be classified as an organization described in sections 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) under 170(b)(1)(A)(vii) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applications will not be accepted from private foundations or a disqualified supporting organization with the meaning of section 4966(d)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code"). Municipalities located on Union Pacific rail lines may apply for programs/projects that benefit the entire community and that are not funded by property tax funds.
  3. Areas of Interest: The Foundation has a strong interest in promoting program effectiveness among nonprofits. To that end, the Foundation will dedicate the majority of these grants to help nonprofit organizations build their capacity by helping new or existing programs reach more people or reach them more effectively. The Foundation will be particularly receptive to proposals that fall within the following categories:
    • Community and Civic: To assist community-based organizations and related activities that improve and enrich the general quality of life in the community. This category includes organizations such as aquariums, botanical gardens, children's museums, history/science museums, public libraries, public television and radio, zoos, etc.
    • Health and Human Services: To assist organizations dedicated to improving the level of health care and providing human services in the community. Local affiliates of national health organizations may apply for local programs only, but not for general operating support.

The Foundation generally will not consider a request from/for:

  • Individuals
  • Organizations/projects/programs that do not fit within the Foundation's funding priorities
  • Organizations without a current Section 501(c)(3) public charity designation from the Internal Revenue Service
  • Public charities classified by the IRS as a 509(a)(3) Supporting Organization Type III "Other."
  • Emergency responders who do not have a 501(c)3) public charity classification, i.e. Fire, Police, Sheriff departments or districts; ambulance services, etc.
  • Organizations that channel grant funds to third parties
  • Organizations whose dominant purpose is to influence legislation or participate/intervene in political campaigns on behalf of or against any candidate for public office
  • Organization/projects/programs for which the Foundation is asked to serve as the sole funder
  • Organizations that already have an active multi-year Union Pacific Foundation grant
  • Religious Organizations for non-secular programs (i.e. programs which promote religious doctrine)
  • Non US-based charities
  • Organizations whose program activities are mainly international
  • Elementary or Secondary schools
  • Athletic programs or events
  • Donation of railroad equipment
  • Event sponsorships, including conventions, conferences, seminars, banquets, galas, walks, runs, etc.
  • Fellowships or Research
  • Loans
  • Labor organizations
  • Organizations whose programs have a national scope


How to Apply

Union Pacific Foundation will accept only online applications through the two-stage process outlined below. Printed copies of the application are not available and will not be accepted.

Your computer must have one of the following browsers, with cookies enabled, to access the forms:

  • Internet Explorer (7.0 or higher)
  • Mozilla Firefox (for PC and Mac)
  • Safari

Note: If you are currently using a spam-blocking tool, please add to your “approved” email contacts.

Stage One: Preliminary Application – Due by 4:00 p.m. CDT August 14.

The Stage One deadline has passed for this year.

Note: A last-minute submission of your Stage One Application Form may not allow for "processing time" of that Application, or, if your Stage One Application is accepted to move on to Stage Two, you may not have allowed yourself enough time to complete the Application by Midnight, August 15.

The Foundation will notify you of acceptance or rejection of your preliminary application via your account email address. Please call the Foundation at 402-544-5600 if you do not receive a response from us in a timely manner.

Stage Two: Final Application – Due by Midnight CDT, August 15

Instructions on how to access your Stage Two Application (through your account) will be included in the notification email. Stage two allows you to provide more details about your organization and the program/project for which you are seeking funds.

Applications undergo a competitive review process. A Foundation invitation to submit an application in no way guarantees funding of that request. The Foundation receives a multitude of grant requests for worthwhile projects every year. In a typical year, we are able to provide some level of funding to about 50% of the requests. The volume of funding requests received also precludes our providing individual critiques of unsuccessful request.

When to Apply

July 1, 2016 2016 open application process begins
August 15, 2016 2016 full applications must be submitted online by midnight CDT
February 2017 Applicants notified of grant status