Union Pacific Foundation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: Union Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Union Pacific Corporation and Union Pacific Railroad. It prioritizes improving and enriching health, human services, and the overall quality of life for the regions on the Union Pacific railway line.

IP TAKE: Union Pacific Foundation emphasizes the arts through its directive to “improve and enrich the general quality of life in the community.” Funding for music—particularly the performance of it—is a primary expression of its arts support. However, grantseekers must be in a community that is “reasonably close” to its railroad line.

PROFILE: Originally established in 1959, Union Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Union Pacific Corporation and Union Pacific Railroad. The foundation seeks “build safe, prosperous, and vibrant communities by investing in high-quality nonprofits ad programs in the cities and towns” where it has a presence. It supports music funding through its Community-Based Grant Program.

Geographically, Union Pacific serves a lot of “communities,” more than 50 cities/regions across the U.S. Grantseekers located in or west of the vertical geographic line of Milwaukee-Little Rock-New Orleans are likely to be on Union Pacific’s radar. Its system map is useful here.

The foundation’s Community-Based Grant Program subdivides its focus into “Community and Civic” and “Health and Human Services.” The foundation’s support of music and the arts falls under the former.

Union Pacific Foundation seeks to promote “program effectiveness,” and therefore prefers to fund capacity building, which it describes as “helping new or existing programs reach more people or reach them effectively.” This definition and prioritization opens up a lot of opportunity for a music 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 then $10,000.” This is true, but there is also the possibility for far more significant amounts if the partnership is right.

Past grantees in music reflect this range in dollar amount, as well as a range in type of music styles, and a range of distribution across its geographic areas of focus: $25,000 to the Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX); $25,000 to the Levitt Pavillion (Arlington, TX); $10,000 to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts (Oakland, CA); $5,000 to the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale (Midland, TX); $5,000 to the AZ Opera Company (Phoenix, AZ); $2,500 to Jazz Education (Houston, TX); $2,500 to the Austin Classical Guitar Society (Austin, TX); $2,500 to the Auburn Symphony (Auburn, CA); $2,500 to the Walla Walla Symphony Orchestra (Walla Walla, WA); $2,000 to the Martinez Opera Contra Costa (Martinez, CA).

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 for grantseekers to consider using a train for their next travel adventure.

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