Frequently Asked Questions
How do I qualify for a grant?
The Community Ties Giving Program considers support to 501(c)(3) public charities located in communities served by Union Pacific Railroad. To determine if your organization may qualify, go to Grant Criteria & Eligibility.
Where do I forward my proposal?
The Community Ties Giving Program only accepts proposals through our online application process. To apply for a grant, go to Application Process & Timeline.
Can I request an application by mail or email?
No; the Community Ties Giving Program accepts only online applications. We do not accept letters of intent or respond to requests for applications outside of this process. To apply for a grant, go to Application Process & Timeline.
How can I get a copy of the application form?
Printed versions of the application form are not available as organizations can apply only online.
When do you accept proposals?
The Community Ties Giving Program accepts Local Grant applications throughout April and May (exact dates may vary slightly each year). Review our Application Process & Timeline for additional information.
When will I be contacted about the status of my grant?
You will be notified in September as to the status of your grant application.
How do I know you received my proposal?
After completing your online application and selecting "Submit" in the Review and Submit section, a system-generated email confirming receipt will be sent to the email address provided in the "Contact" area of the application. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please check to make sure you clicked ‘Submit’, not ‘Save’.
How can I improve my chances of receiving a grant?
You can increase the possibility of receiving a grant and improve the quality of your proposal by having a clear alignment with one of our Funding Priorities & Objectives and by reading and adhering to the Grant Criteria & Eligibility.
How much does the Union Pacific Foundation give each year?
The Community Ties Giving Program distributes approximately $5 million annually through the Local Grants Program.
What is the range in size of grants?
Typical grant awards in the Local Grants program will range from $2,500 – $25,000. Based on the past several years, the average grant was less than $10,000.
Will my nonprofit receive the amount requested?
Not necessarily. Many aspects of your proposal are taken into consideration, including your organization's mission and goals, leadership, vision and strategy, type of request, community, etc.
My 501(c)(3) has a pending status; do I qualify?
No. The Community Ties Giving Program reviews more than 1,700 grant requests per year and can support only a small portion of these projects. Unless your nonprofit currently possesses a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS, you are not eligible to apply.
Do you provide only cash grants?
Yes. The Community Ties Giving Program does not award in-kind gifts of land, structures, equipment or materials from Union Pacific Railroad.
My organization is identified as a nonprofit by my state. Is that the same as the IRS 501(c)(3) documentation?
No. The organization must have completed the appropriate forms and filed them with the IRS to receive this ruling. Check with your accountant regarding the IRS designation status of your organization.
The IRS has determined my organization is a 501(c)(4) but we do charitable work. Can we apply?
No. There are numerous 501(c) designations in the IRS Code. The Community Ties Giving Program only accepts requests from 501(c)(3) public charities.
May I apply for a grant for a specific project on behalf of another organization, which does not have a 501(c)(3)?
No. Law prohibits the Community Ties Giving Program from granting funds to one qualified organization that in turn provides the funds to an unqualified organization.
May I apply for a grant if my organization does not have a 501(c)(3) status but has a fiscal sponsor?
No. The Community Ties Giving Program does not accept applications from organizations that require a fiscal sponsor.
Can I use any browser to submit my application?
We have received multiple inquiries from applicants reporting difficulties using Google Chrome. Please select a different browser and try again.
What is Union Pacific’s philanthropic commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?
At Union Pacific, it is important that our grants portfolio advances the interests of underrepresented or underserved populations and reflects the diversity of the communities in which we live, work and serve. Therefore, our goal in 2023 is for 100% of the grants awarded through the Community Ties Giving Program to support projects or organizations that demonstrate a commitment to advancing DEI. We define this as aligning to at least one of our “DEI dimensions".
What are Union Pacific’s DEI dimensions?
In 2023, grantees must demonstrate alignment with at least one of the following three dimensions:
- Grant Mission: The purpose of the grant is to advance the interests of an underrepresented or underserved population, or the grant will be used to advance the organization’s own capacity around DEI.
- Target Population: The grant will primarily serve an underrepresented population.
- Grantee Organizational Structure and Culture: The organization is taking actions to instill DEI internally and/or within its programs in the following ways:
o The organization has a publicly-available anti-discrimination and/or DEI policy; and
o The organization provides DEI-related training to its staff and/or board; and
o The organization has demonstrated efforts to ensure its board, leadership and/or staff reflect the diversity of the community served
Should I apply for a grant if my organization does not currently align with Union Pacific’s outlined DEI dimensions?
If your organization or proposed project does not currently align with Union Pacific's DEI dimensions, we encourage you to seek funding from the Community Ties Giving Program to build the capacity of your organization to integrate DEI best practices internally (for instance, creation of an anti-discrimination policy, DEI staff training, board development efforts, demographic data collection, etc.).
If your organization does not align with Union Pacific's DEI dimensions, and you are not seeking funding to build your capacity in this area, your organization will not be considered for funding.
What is Union Pacific’s definition of diversity?
At Union Pacific, we view diversity as people’s various identities and differences, including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability status, sexual orientation, native or indigenous origin, age, religion, military background and socioeconomic status.
What if the community in which my organization operates lacks racial or ethnic diversity?
Consider the ways in which your community is diverse and take advantage of opportunities your organization has that can advance equity and inclusion within your local context. Examples include:
- Improvements to your facilities/programs to ensure they are accessible and safe for people with disabilities.
- Updated communications and program expansions that invite historically underserved members of your community to utilize your organization's services.
- Workforce development programs focused on cultivating the skills of women and girls in careers in which women have been historically underrepresented.
- Programs that primarily serve people whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold.
In addition, Union pacific encourages every organization to integrate DEI best practices internally and will consider grant requests to build the capacity of your organization in this area (for instance, creation of an anti-discrimination policy, DEI staff training, board development efforts, demographic data collection, etc.).
What does it mean for my organization to have an anti-discrimination or DEI policy?
We want to know that your organization acknowledges and is working to address DEI within your programming. Having a policy means your organization has developed, approved and distributed to your stakeholders a formal statement reflecting your organization’s stance against discrimination and/or commitments to DEI.