Delta Air Lines: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Delta Air Lines and its affiliated foundation, the Delta Air Lines Foundation, give primarily in the areas of education, health and wellness, arts and culture, and diversity. Giving sometimes aligns with more than one of those interests. Higher Ed giving in recent years has gone to scholarship support as well as major initiatives tied to the aviation industry.

IP TAKE: Delta’s biggest giving has regularly been tied directly to individuals and entities working directly in areas related to its business interests. The process for seeking Delta funding is a bit murky.

PROFILE: Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has long been one of the most recognized names in corporate America. Founded more than 90 years ago, it has grown to boast a global presence and is a ubiquitous presence in air travel in the U.S. and internationally. Delta’s corporate and foundation giving are all categorized under the banner of the corporation’s efforts to bolster its reputation as a Force for Global Good.

In late 2015, Delta announced that starting that year, it would donate “1 percent of its net income from the previous year to key charitable organizations...through cash contributions and in-kind travel, as well as grants from The Delta Air Lines Foundation.

Of late, a major philanthropic focus for Delta has been education, including higher education. Other key concerns include health and wellness, arts and culture, and diversity. Its giving mainly - but not exclusively - goes to areas where the company has a corporate presence.

It’s worth noting that Delta’s support for higher ed sometimes intersects with its other giving priorities. In support of both higher ed and diversity, for example, Delta recently gave $150,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, with a focus on scholarship support for students in the STEM fields. Delta has also given sizeable sums to the United Negro College Fund, another major player in boosting minority representation in higher ed. Outside the university arena, Delta also has also supported the National Center for Civil and Human Rights,, the National Association of Chinese Americans, Pride, and the One Hundred Black Men of America.

In addition to complementing its concern with diversity, Delta’s grants and other giving often align with the airline’s business interests, such as by funding initiatives in engineering and aviation. For example, Delta offers several scholarships in partnership with Women in Aviation, such as the Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Technology Scholarship ($5,000-$7,000), the Engine Maintenance Internship (worth about $12,000), the Boeing 777 Type Rating Certificate Scholarships (valued at $35,000), and the Aviation Maintenance Management/Aviation Business Management Scholarship ($5,000).  Each of these awards also comes with an expenses-paid  trip to the annual International Women in Aviation Conference.

On a higher-profile level - and close to its headquarters in Atlanta - Delta’s foundation also recently announced a $2 million gift to Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business “to create the Delta Student Success Center, a physical space that will help students develop business communication skills, gain experiential learning opportunities and connect with businesses for internships and job opportunities.” Delta has also committed $5 million to Georgia Tech, with $2 million going to “funding projects to enhance its operations and the customer experience” and $3 million allocated for a “multi-year grant to the Georgia Tech Foundation for the Georgia Tech Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility (AMPF).”

Delta also recently gave $100,000 in general support to Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA, and sponsors the “Joseph E. Lowery scholarships affiliated with Morehouse and Spelman Colleges as well as Clark Atlanta University.” Delta also offers a separate fund to provide scholarships exclusively available to spouses, domestic partners, and dependents of Delta employees.

On a broader scale, Delta is a partner with Prince’s Trust, which “supports teenagers and adults between the ages of 13 and 30 who are struggling in school, unemployed or are at risk of exclusion” and was started by Prince Charles in 1976.

It’s worth noting that Delta is also involved in various ways with supporting the pre-university set, for example, by sponsorship for a spelling bee in Ghana, and by involving its employees in mentoring high school students, awareness-raising on the issue of youth homelessness, and giving to the Toys for Tots program for children of U.S. military veterans.

Lastly, Foundation Center, “the foundation matches contributions made by employees and directors of Delta Air Lines to institutions of higher education on a one-for-two basis from $25 to $2,000 per contributor, per year,” thouch more specific information on the current status of this initiative is not readily available on Delta’s web site.


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    Delta Air Lines Foundation
    1525 W. WT Harris Blvd., D1114-044
    Charlotte, NC United States 28288-1161
    Telephone: (404) 715-5487