Community Ties Giving Program: Where We Have Tracks, We Have Ties

By Ranae Keckeisen, Director-Corporate Relations

Young Audiences Inc.

Community Ties Giving Program recipient Young Audiences, Inc., of Houston, worked with Barrick Elementary School students and teachers to develop raised-bed gardens.

I hold one of the best jobs in the railroad - I get to see firsthand Union Pacific’s investments in building communities every day as part of our commitment to Building America through the Community Ties Giving Program.

I’m proud to work for a company that values inclusivity and belonging, not only internally, but also externally, providing grants to so many worthy organizations helping individuals with disabilities. It’s something that really hits home with me personally.

After becoming a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I have a new perspective on how individuals with disabilities are sometimes treated as “less-than” in our society, and am aware of the holes in our governmental systems that sometimes allow the disabled to not have their basic needs met. These types of grants allow organizations to fill gaps and improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Last year alone, Union Pacific awarded local grants to more than 30 disability-focused organizations, from workforce readiness and educational programs to infrastructure and inclusivity projects.

Union Pacific’s tangible commitment to communities started nearly 70 years ago, when the Union Pacific Foundation was created to support local charitable, educational and scientific activities. Now part of the Community Ties Giving Program, the Foundation has awarded grants every year since its launch in 1955.

Today, more than ever, strong, safe, vibrant, prosperous communities are needed where our customers and employees live and work, which is why we’re proud to fund organizations like:

  • Bo’s Place in Houston, TX, an organization that offers grief support to families, including age-appropriate services for children.
  • The Community Build Playground in North Platte, NE, that welcomes children of all abilities as they run, roll, swing or slide along equipment designed for inclusive play, and
  • Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) of Wheeling, IL, a hotline used to coordinate agencies statewide to provide mutual aid, mobilizing firefighters and rescue specialists where needed.

That’s just three of the hundreds of organizations that received support in 2021. Last year’s community investments through the program totaled nearly $22 million, and we’re investing another $23.5 million in our communities this year.

Our corporate giving includes local grants, strategic regional and national Key Partnerships, employee matching gifts programs, and local community support.

Together with our community partners, we build safe, vibrant, prosperous communities through three focus areas:

Safety – Union Pacific is committed to helping communities prevent and prepare for accidents and emergencies, and helping residents get home safe at the end of each day.

Workforce Development – We are committed to helping underrepresented residents in our communities achieve family-supporting careers like those offered by Union Pacific.

Community Spaces – We want to make sure all residents within our operating locations have equitable access to special places in their communities that celebrate cultural diversity, artistic expression, our natural environment and enriching social interactions.

We’re committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) not only in our internal hiring and employment practices, but also the programs we support with our corporate giving. By 2023, all our Local Grant and Key Partner organizations will be aligned with our DEI principles.

Our annual, open request for proposals (RFP) process is open through May 31, 2022. Any registered 501c3 Public Charity in good standing with the IRS, that serves a Union Pacific community, and is committed to advancing DE&I, is eligible to apply and doing so is easy. Full guidelines, eligibility and applications can be found on the Community Ties website

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