DALLAS, Oct. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) and Project for Public Spaces announced today the opening of the 2017 Southwest Airlines' Heart of the Community grant application as part of the airline's commitment to building connections that bring people together and strengthen communities for a more resilient future. The corporate and nonprofit partners have witnessed four years of impactful projects in 18 cities, and they are eager to fund the next round of innovative placemaking projects in cities served by the airline.
"At Southwest Airlines, we have spent the past 45 years democratizing the skies—now we are creating an open seating policy in public spaces by helping people build meaningful connections with those around them," said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President and Chief Communications Officer. "These connections are creating the foundation for more resilient communities where local residents have a sense of ownership and pride in the places they call home with the people they love."
An evaluation focusing on five initial projects is demonstrating that on average a Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant leverages four times its amount in additional funding from other sources. Not only does this boost the valuable work of grant recipients, but it also shows how initial investments in public spaces can result in a number of other positive outcomes for cities.
There has also been a marked increase in visitation to grantee sites. From 2013 through 2015, grant recipient locations in Detroit; San Antonio; Providence, R.I.; San Diego; and Baltimore welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors, and 1.4 million people have attended additional events at these places. For example, the reading room in Providence has brought hundreds of families to Burnside Park—softening the image of the park where people once felt unsafe—by giving kids and their parents a reason to take back the public space, creating a welcoming environment for the entire community.
Placemaking improvements to these public spaces have also helped create new jobs, 147 across the five sites, to be exact, and generated $7.7 million in visitor spending. Food trucks and other vendors have shown up in full force at the Plaza de Panama after the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant encouraged adjacent museums to spill out onto the plaza and engage passersby in San Diego. Local business owners also are benefiting with increases in patronage, as in the case of Josh Cowan of Dizzy Cow Pizzeria in Baltimore, which serves lunch to hundreds every Thursday during the weekly farmers market at Pratt and Light Plaza.
"Everyone has the right to quality public spaces, and we all have a role to play in shaping them," explains Fred Kent, Founder and President of Project for Public Spaces. "By collectively reimagining public spaces at the heart of every community, we can strengthen the connection between people and the places they share and maximize their shared value, resulting in positive social, economic, and environmental benefits."
The 2017 Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant application is open now through December 5. To learn more about these impactful past projects, view the Southwest: The Magazine articles, A Piece of the Pie; Better Together; New Life at Lindbergh Forum; and Sharing the Love in Albuquerque. For application details, to sign-up for our informational webinar, and to learn more about past projects visit www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community and the Southwest Airlines Community.
ABOUT PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES
Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Its pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. PPS was founded in 1975 to apply and expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, the organization has completed projects in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states and are the premier center for best practices, information and resources on Placemaking.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 46th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 53,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest operates more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season across a network of 98 destinations in the United States and seven additional countries with service to Varadero, Cuba beginning Nov. 13, 2016, and to Havana, Cuba, beginning Dec. 12, 2016, both routes subject to governmental approvals.
Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest created Transfarency℠, a philosophy which treats Customers honestly and fairly, and in which low fares actually stay low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some airlines may allow free checked bags on select routes or for qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply. The airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. A new logo, aircraft livery, interior design featuring a new seat and Flight Attendant galley, Employee-designed uniforms, and an updated airport experience all showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees who connect Customers with what's important in their lives.
From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 43 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2015 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at SouthwestOneReport.com.
Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.
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SOURCE Southwest Airlines Co.