Union Pacific Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Union Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic arm 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 50-plus regions on the Union Pacific railway line. Universities receive consistent support; primary and secondary schools are not eligible for funding.

IP TAKE: Union Pacific Foundation emphasizes higher education through its directive to “improve and enrich the general quality of life in the community” - so long as the community 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. As it did years ago, the foundation seeks to distribute funds to “organizations in communities served by Union Pacific.” This refers to more than 50 cities and regions west of the Mississippi River. Union Pacific Foundation conducts grants through its Community-Based Grant Program, which funds safety, workforce development, community spaces, and local needs.

Union Pacific does not prioritize higher education grantmaking, but it conducts related grantmaking through its Workforce Development program. This program emphasizes STEM education, conditioning students to become Union Pacific employees, community colleges, vocational and career training programs, workforce readiness initiatives, and programs that assist with job placement and/or on-the-job experience. It also funds work that mentors “nonprofit professionals to help them grow and advance their organizations.”

Grants range from $2,500 to $25,000. A sampling of recent grantees can be reviewed in its Community News Releases and Annual Reports, though these releases provide little information grantmaking strategies beyond the names and locations of its grantees. Applications are fully open, with a submission period between April and June each year. Grantseekers should carefully review the foundations Eligibility Criteria and check that their state and city is among those served by consulting UP’s Index.

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