Criteria & Elgibility

Grant Criteria

Successful grant applications will meet the following criteria:

  • Clear alignment with a cause area and its related objective(s) as described in Funding Priorities & Objectives.
  • Demonstrated need for the program or project;
  • Demonstrated capacity of the organization to deliver quality programming and meet established goals;
  • Potential for positive social benefit across broad and diverse populations;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), within the grantee organization and/or its programs.  Visit the FAQs to learn more about Union Pacific's DEI dimensions applicable to Annual Local Grant applications.


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Grantee Eligibility

In order to be considered for a Local Grant, your organization and the program or project for which you are requesting funds must meet the following eligibility requirements:

Public Charity Status

All grant recipients must be non-profit, charitable organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code 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 code. As of 2018, the Community Ties Giving Program no longer funds governmental entities without a 501(c)(3) public charity designation from the IRS.

  • Emergency service providers
    such as fire and police departments must apply under their own public charity with 501(c)(3) designation. As an additional opportunity for engagement, Union Pacific offers Hazardous Materials Response Training to emergency service providers.
  • Religious organizations
    such as churches, mosques, and synagogues may qualify only if they have established a separate 501(c)(3) organization to operate the funded program AND the outreach program is offered to the general population regardless of religious affiliation.
  • Elementary and secondary schools
    cannot be funded directly; programs administered within a school environment by a separate 501(c)(3) organization may be considered.

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.

Union Pacific system map

Geographic Eligibility

The program or project for which grant funds are sought must primarily benefit a community that is served by Union Pacific; further it is preferred that the organization requesting funds be located in a community served by Union Pacific. The Community Ties Giving Program does not accept applications for programs that do not primarily serve a Union Pacific community; applicants will be required to include which community/communities the proposed grant will serve in their grant applications.

If you do not see your community on this list, but believe it should be, please send an email to upf@up.com.

Other Restrictions

Additionally, the following types of organizations and activities are INELIGIBLE for funding:

  • Programs and projects that do not fit within the Community Ties Giving Program's funding priorities
  • Requests for general operating support
  • Event sponsorships, fundraising events and campaigns (e.g. conferences/seminars, galas, golf tournaments, annual awards ceremonies, raffles, telethons, walk-a-thons, auctions, endowments, memorial campaigns, parades, etc.)
  • Social, labor, alumni and fraternal organizations (e.g., higher education alumni groups, sororities, fraternities, workers' unions, exclusive membership clubs limited to a specific constituency, etc.)
  • Professional and amateur sports events, organizations, and teams (e.g., Little Leagues)
  • Political organizations and organizations whose dominant purpose is to influence legislation or participate/intervene in political campaigns on behalf of or against any candidate for public office
  • Organizations that channel Local Grant funding to third parties; local United Way chapters are the only exception to this restriction
  • Organizations requiring a fiscal sponsor because they do not have their own 501(c)(3) status
  • Organizations that discriminate based on a person's race, ethnicity, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, religion, past or present military service, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, pregnancy, political affiliation, marital or familial status, or any other ground prohibited by law ("protected status"). Notwithstanding the foregoing, religious organizations such as churches, mosques, and synagogues are eligible for funding if they have established a separate 501(c)(3) organization to operate the funded program AND the outreach program is offered to the general population regardless of religious affiliation.
  • Terrorist organizations or those not compliant with the USA Patriot Act
  • Non US-based charities or organizations whose program activities are mainly international
  • Individuals
  • Fellowships or Research
  • Projects that include proposed changes or improvements to Union Pacific Railroad-owned property
  • Requests for railroad equipment
  • Organizations having received three consecutive years of UPF Local Grants*
  • Organizations not current with UP agreement obligations, such as real estate leases

*Each year is a new, competitive process; funding in one year does not guarantee or predict future funding. However, in the event a grantee receives multiple consecutive years of funding, this requirement ensures a variety of worthy organizations will benefit from Local Grants; after taking a "year off" from local grant funding, organizations may be eligible to apply again.