After four years of impactful projects in 18 cities, Southwest and Project for Public Spaces are looking for our next set of community-driven public space projects to fund in the cities we serve. To learn more about the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant and for information on how to apply, visit www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community.
At Southwest, 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 through our Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grants. In partnership with Project for Public Spaces, we are committed to bringing people together in developing a shared vision for their public spaces, ensuring they meet the needs of residents in order to create a more vibrant and livable community.
An evaluation focusing on five of our initial projects is proving that on average a Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant can leverage four-times its amount in additional funding from other sources, furthering the valuable work of grant recipients. Additionally, these investments in public space have proven to result in many other positive outcomes for cities.
From 2013 to 2015, public space grant projects in Detroit, MI; San Antonio, TX; Providence, RI; San Diego, CA; and Baltimore, MD, have seen the following:
- Over 2.5 million visitors
- 4 million event attendees
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.
While improvements to these sites has increased visitation, the revitalization of these now vibrant public spaces has also generated the following:
- 147 new jobs
- $7.7 million in visitor spending
Food trucks and other vendors have shown up in full force at 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.
No matter how different each project is, one key theme emerges: it’s not just about making a place; it’s about improving quality of life for the surrounding community!