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 would 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 depending on calendar). 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 $9 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. The Community Ties Giving Program is particularly interested in the level of support your organization receives from other businesses in your community.
My 501(c)(3) has a pending status; do I qualify?
No. The Community Ties Giving Program reviews more than 2,300 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 who 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 is 100% of Union Pacific’s Community Ties giving supports programs or organizations which demonstrate a commitment to advancing DEI by 2023. We define this as aligning to at least one of our “DEI dimensions".
What are Union Pacific’s DEI 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?
Yes! We recognize that demonstrating a commitment to DEI may take time and require additional resources. We view our goal to reach a 100% DEI-aligned grant portfolio as a multi-year journey and are committed to helping your organization along the way, and we are offering support to build organizations’ capacity in this area. If you need financial resources, we encourage you to allocate at least a portion of your grant request for activities such as DEI training, hiring a DEI consultant, demographic data collection, etc.
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. Though we support diversity in all its forms, our Community Ties Giving Program prioritizes grants which advance the interests of BIPOC communities, women and girls, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, or veterans. In certain circumstances, within the context of the grant, additional underserved groups such as seniors, rural populations, and/or low-income populations may be aligned with our program priorities.
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.