Picture this: Across its grand 23-statewide network, Union Pacific finds unique ways to support niche communities and their needs.
After hearing about a $10K camera equipment burglary from nonprofit FreshLens Chicago, Kurt Blodgett, senior manager-Risk Management, saw an opportunity for Union Pacific to step in.
“I knew it was going to take a mountain of effort to recover from this financial loss and kids would be directly impacted by it,” Blodgett said.
Union Pacific’s Risk Management team recently updated its equipment, and Blodgett thought the older cameras would still serve as quality resources for students in the FreshLens Chicago program. Blodgett facilitated Union Pacific’s donation of Risk Management’s gently used cameras with the help of his wife, Michelle, who is a volunteer instructor at FreshLens’ parent school, Chicago Photo Classes.
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FreshLens Chicago offers educational arts programming, advanced photography lessons and portfolio development to students from under-resourced areas in Chicago. Students can graduate from the program and receive a gently used camera to keep as their own.
Approximately 150-200 teens have gone through the FreshLens Chicago 8-week program, with 95% earning their own camera.
In alignment with Union Pacific’s mission to strengthen its communities, FreshLens Chicago believes no student should be denied access to enrichment opportunities based on their financial situation.
“I left [FreshLens Chicago] teary-eyed after hearing about the personal impact this program has on each student,” Blodgett said. “I could only imagine what a big impact this donation would have.”