Union Pacific Foundation: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW: Union Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of Union Pacific Corporation and Union Pacific Railroad. It focuses on improving and enriching health, human services, and the overall quality of life for the 23 states on the Union Pacific railway line.

IP TAKE: Union Pacific Foundation places a consistent emphasis on the arts through its directive to “improve and enrich the general quality of life in the community.” Dance makes up the foundation's smallest sliver of arts support, but it's still there—so long as you’re in a community that is “reasonably close” to one of its railroad lines.

PROFILE: Originally established in 1959, Union Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic offspring of Union Pacific Corporation and Union Pacific Railroad. Its core functionality then is the same as it is now: To distribute funds to “organizations in communities served by Union Pacific” through its Community-Based Grant Program.

Who are those “communities served?” There are a lot of them—radiating out from more than 50 cities/regions across the country If you’re located in or west of the vertical geographic line of Minneapolis-Memphis-New Orleans, there’s a good likelihood you’re on Union Pacific’s radar. Here’s their map to help you out.

Union Pacific Foundation seeks to promote “program effectiveness,” and therefore, particularly likes its grants to go to capacity-building, which it describes as “helping new or existing programs reach more people or reach them effectively.” This definition and prioritizing opens up a range of opportunity for a dance organization or program seeking support.

By Union Pacific Foundation’s own assessment, the average grant amount for its recipients over the past few years is “less than $10,000.” This is true, but there is also the possibility for far more significant amounts if the partnership is right.

Recent giving in dance and the dance-inclusive realm reflects this range in dollar amount, as well as a range of distribution across its geographic areas of focus, though in the scheme of the foundation's arts giving, dance seems to draw less focus than its theater and music peers. A sampling of recent dance grantees include:

To see a full list of grantees, click here.

Applications are an open, online process with a mid-August deadline. Union Pacific Foundation points out that it funds its grants with operating profits from its corporate side, not through an endowment, so this might also be a reminder to consider using a train for your next travel adventure.

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