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A Southwest Donation Helps Turn a Moment into a Movement


Southwest Airlines is proud to support organizations that empower local communities to thrive. Recently, there has been an important increase in dialogue addressing racial injustices. These conversations prompted Southwest to lean on long-standing relationships in our desire to listen, learn, and act, recognizing there is still more work to do. 


In June, as a first step in Southwest’s commitment to driving change in the communities we serve, we announced a $500,000 donation* to two of our longtime partners: The National Urban League and 100 Black Men of America. We have proudly supported these organizations for several years and are honored to continue to champion the great work they do to promote education, mentorship, and leadership development in Black communities across the country.


Keep reading to learn more about the impactful work the National Urban League is doing with our recent donation.


The following is written by Tiffany Majors, President and CEO, Greater Baltimore Urban League and Andrea Custis, Urban League of Philadelphia


Greater Baltimore Urban League (GBUL)

The Greater Baltimore Urban League (GBUL) plans to use the recent grant from Southwest Airlines to develop a workforce development initiative. This initiative will support training and promote educational interest in the aviation industry among African Americans throughout the Baltimore Metropolitan area.


GBUL will partner with Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport, Southwest Airlines, Enterprise Holding’s Corporation, and The Legacy Creators providing course instruction to students and workforce development to adults looking for employment. Our goal is to increase exposure for African Americans in marginalized communities to learn about the aviation industry and career paths. More specifically, the program will expose participants to pilot opportunities, where the current rate of African American pilots in the United States is less than three percent.


Additionally, there are numerous operational pathways for participants to explore. Historically, there has not been a program throughout the Baltimore region that levies its resources and partnerships with BWI and Southwest to train students for 8-12 weeks in aviation, providing hands-on flight hours and specialized. This initiative will provide partners with opportunities to showcase their organizational programs and initiatives to students and employable citizens, along with networking to increase the number of future job candidates, partners, and sponsors.


GBUL is committed to advocacy, support, and training African Americans and other minorities for sustainable self-sufficiency. As current careers are vastly growing in the STEM arena, we’re dedicated to preparing our minorities and future generations with the opportunities to compete and thrive in mainstream America. 


With the generous grant that Southwest and our additional partners have collectively provided to GBUL, we have adjusted our programming on such initiatives, due to the effects of COVID-19, and will begin this program in the fourth quarter of 2020. We thank Southwest for supporting the unserved and underserved communities of the Baltimore Region who will now have the opportunity to compete with our next generation.


Urban League Philadelphia

Throughout our 103-year history of service, the Urban League of Philadelphia has continued to responsively meet the needs of minority residents in our neighborhoods who are experiencing unemployment or under-employment. Our dedicated workforce development staff team works side-by-side with clients, offering an individualized roadmap to success consisting of resume writing/building, basic internet and computer training, mock interviewing, on-site hiring events, and connection to employers.

In partnership with Southwest Airlines, and thanks to their recent donation, we are excited to feature aviation as a career pathway during our Summer Youth Program, which will virtually work with 75 young people as they transition from high school to college or careers.


Through our civic engagement, we have been laser-focused on our voting and census work. On a national level, we joined When We All Vote, a national voter registration organization co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Through this partnership, we hosted a vote by mail mobilization campaign titled PA #CouchParty. It was exciting to “virtually” party with close to 400 excited and engaged people in Pennsylvania. More importantly, our party sent over 250,000 SMS text messages encouraging them to request a mail-in ballot - which led to over 15,000 clicks with requests to vote by mail. With the November election less than 120 days away, we are excited Southwest’s support has helped us register high school and college students so they are ready to vote on November 3.


Completing the 2020 Census is critical for the Urban League of Philadelphia. An accurate Census count will bring the necessary dollars to address issues with education, hospitals, transportation, and representation in our government. We look forward to continuing to work with Southwest to expand our Census work, particularly with mobilizing college students to contact families and remind them to complete the Census. We will work with one of our two local Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Cheyney University, to encourage these students to contact residents in hard to reach neighborhoods. This is critical for our college students because we want them to understand the importance of civic engagement. More importantly, many of these students are reaching out to the same communities in which they come from. This helps them become active participants in creating change in their community.


We are excited for Southwest to join us in these efforts. This moment is calling for everyone to do their part to create long-lasting change in our community. We value Southwest for recognizing this moment and stepping up to the challenge to make a meaningful impact and change lives.