At Southwest Airlines, we believe educated communities are empowered communities, and that every student should have the opportunity to follow their educational dreams. Through the Southwest Airlines Scholarship Program, launched last spring, our mission is to provide opportunities that help build a diverse talent pipeline, while inspiring future generations to find careers within the airline industry. To achieve this goal, the Program consists of two scholarships:
The Herbert D. Kelleher and Rollin W. King Scholarship which is an internal scholarship that honors our Founder and its namesake by providing financial assistance to Employee dependents striving to pursue higher education.
The Southwest Airlines® Scholarship is a new community-centric scholarship that underscores our commitment to building a diverse talent pipeline, and highlights the importance of equity and inclusion for future generations.
We are thrilled to announce $110,000 has been awarded in scholarships to 17 students this year. To celebrate the recipients, we also surprised them with some fun Southwest gear and four roundtrip tickets to help them stay connected to the people and places that matter most in their lives throughout the school year.
Congratulations to all of our 2021 Southwest Scholarship Program recipients – these students are going places! We are honored to be a small part of that journey and support their educational dreams through our Scholarship Program. Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.
Herbert D. Kelleher and Rollin W. King Scholarship:
Amber, Brigham Young University
Christian, University of Oklahoma
Fernando, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Sofia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sophia, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Southwest Airlines Scholarship:
Adrianna, Seattle University
Anika, Middle Tennessee State University
Erika, Fisk University
Grace, Emory University
Jalen, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
James, Southeastern University
Lydia, University of Oklahoma
Michal, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paul'Jacob, The University of Nevada Las Vegas
Rufus, Morehouse College
Safwan, University of Illinois at Chicago
Sukhman , San Jose State University
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This story was originally shared on Southwest Airlines’ internal channels by Director Community Outreach Laura Nieto and Vice President Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Juan Suarez.
Rosa Parks, one of the soft-spoken champions of the Civil Rights movement, passed away 16 years ago this weekend, on October 24, 2005. At the time, the nation, as a whole, seemed to rise in her honor.
The United States Senate—in a display of political unity—unanimously approved a resolution honoring her achievements. Newspapers across the country filled editorial pages with heartfelt remembrances. Various organizations and universities staged public tributes. And in Montgomery, Alabama, and Detroit, city officials cordoned off the front seats of their city buses in her memory.
Amid this dramatic outpouring of support, civil rights leaders sought to organize one final farewell for a true American hero: an ambitious multi-day, multi-city procession of Mrs. Parks’ body before it was laid to rest. They reached out to Southwest Airlines to aid in this effort.
The Company considered it an honor to provide Mrs. Parks the homecoming she deserved and knew precisely the man who should captain the flight: (now retired) Chief Pilot Lou Freeman. Joining Lou would be a diverse Crew, including Captain Richard Turner and First Officer Trevor Hinton, as well as Inflight Supervisors Yolanda Gabriel, Rita Tubilleja, and Renee Gordon.
Captain Lou Freeman, second from right, poses with the Flight Crew for the final flight of Rosa Parks. On the left is Captain Richard Turner, and on the right is First Officer Trevor Hinton. Behind them are Inflight Supervisors Yolanda Gabriel, Rita Tubilleja, and Renee Gordon. What none of these Crewmembers could fully anticipate, however, was just how profound of an experience the journey would turn out to be.
Captain Lou Freeman, left, and Captain Richard Turner with the casket of Rosa Parks. It had been in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955, that Mrs. Parks—then a 42-year-old seamstress—was arrested and fined $10 plus $4 in court costs for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. “My feet were not hurting,” said Parks years later. “I was tired in a different way.”
Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955. Yet it was that righteous fatigue—channeled by a woman who showed the courage to make a vital stand—that helped galvanize a movement to transform a nation. As we remember the inspirational life of Mrs. Parks today and celebrate Southwest Airlines’ 50 th Anniversary this year, we’re deeply honored that our Company’s history and Mrs. Parks’ legacy intersected in 2005. As we look to the Company’s next 50 years and beyond, we’re committed to supporting our diverse communities and continuing to support the notion that gave Mrs. Parks the courage to remain seated—racial equality for all.
Want to learn more about Mrs. Parks’ final procession, the unique ways Southwest Airlines was able to honor this civil rights hero, and the impact the journey made on the Crew?
Check out the full story and more on Southwest’s 50 th Anniversary website.
Hear from retired Chief Pilot Lou Freeman himself about how much this experience meant to him on Episode 18 of the podcast series, “Is This Seat Open?”
*Southwest Airlines would like to thank the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, whom the Company partnered with in 2005. It was truly an honor for Southwest to serve Mrs. Parks, her family, and the Black community in this way, and we thank the Institute for the rights to commemorate this moment in Southwest and U.S. history.
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Today kicks off National Preparedness Month to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. Communities across the country are being impacted by recent refugee resettlements, wildfires, earthquakes, and tropical storms including the latest, Hurricane Ida, creating devastating damage in Louisiana and beyond. Here are some specifics about how Southwest Airlines is caring for our People and protecting our communities to provide much-needed assistance and relief.
Caring for Our People
One of Southwest’s core tenets is to ensure we are prepared and ready to act when the unexpected occurs. The Safety of our Employees always remains our number one priority, especially during times of need. That is why Southwest has The Southwest Airlines Employee Catastrophic Assistance Charity, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission of assisting Southwest Employees who are experiencing financial hardship due to a catastrophic event in their lives.
Protecting Our Communities
Through our Community Outreach efforts, we also demonstrate this commitment externally by partnering with organizations focused on preparedness, response, and resilience. Right now, communities across the country are experiencing a number of devastating crises and disasters, including the latest, Hurricane Ida, creating significant damage in Louisiana.
To provide immediate support, we are providing three $50,000 grants to American Red Cross, Feeding America®, and Team Rubicon from the Southwest Airlines Foundation (a corporate-advised fund within the Silicon Valley Community Foundation). These grants will assist with recovery and relief operations from the recent refugee resettlements, wildfires, earthquakes, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
How Customers and Employees Can Help
In an effort to provide the highest level of support to the community, we’re inviting our Customers and our Employees to join these relief efforts through our Rapid Rewards® points promotion running today, Sept. 1, 2021, through Oct. 4, 2021. Rapid Reward Members who donate a minimum of $25 or more to American Red Cross, Feeding America, and Team Rubicon, will receive 20 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar donated*. Visit Southwest.com to donate to one or more of the organizations working on the frontlines providing much-needed relief to impacted communities.
Visit Southwest.com to donate Often, it may take weeks or months to fully assess the specific needs and support essential to helping those impacted. Southwest will remain in close contact with our national and local community partners to determine additional ways the Company or Employees can assist with these relief efforts.
We remain dedicated to serving in unique ways that are true to Southwest to help those when they need us most. Thank you for always putting your Heart in action to care for our People and protect our communities.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
*Rapid Rewards account information is required. Points will be reflected in the Members’ Rapid Rewards account within 45 days after a donation has been made. The maximum earn limit is 10,000 points. Rapid Rewards bonus points do not count toward A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass qualification.
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Community Outreach has had a longtime focus on Southwest Airlines education-related initiatives because we believe educated communities are empowered communities. Championing educational attainment for all continues to be a foundational principle that drives our work across the communities we serve. From the founding of our Adopt-A-Pilot program to the celebration of our ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! Higher Education Travel Award, we have always encouraged students at any age to soar to new heights through learning. This includes through the Herbert D. Kelleher and Rollin W. King Scholarship, a program that’s been available to dependents of Southwest Employees for more than 40 years.
Providing scholarship opportunities and financial support in the pursuit of education can have a direct impact on a community, empowering and inspiring everyone to thrive. With that in mind, we’re excited to announce the launch of The Southwest Airlines® Scholarship!
While the scholarship application will not open until April 1, 2021, we encourage you and potential applicants to visit swa.is/scholarships today to review the application process and criteria.
Through our existing programs, we have seen the positive impact providing educational opportunities can have on a person and we’re excited to continue championing the importance of education through these scholarships. Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.
The Southwest Airlines® Scholarship:
Established in 2021 by Southwest Airlines. The intent of the award is to build a diverse talent pipeline and highlight the importance of inclusion for future generations in the airline industry.
The scholarships are one-year awards for students pursuing higher education. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited vocational, community/junior college, or undergraduate program and pursuing a degree or post-secondary certificate.
This scholarship will be managed and executed by Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF)—a separate entity from Southwest, which is not a part of our Company’s operating budget.
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For more than two decades, Southwest Airlines’ Community Outreach efforts have centered on developing and nurturing authentic relationships with organizations committed to building resilient communities. We believe in championing causes that matter most and ensuring our investments mirror the diverse communities we serve. As part of these efforts and to celebrate the generosity movement known as Giving Tuesday, we are adding three new partners to our Points for a Purpose program: Polaris, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and UNCF (United Negro College Fund).
Points for a Purpose gives Rapid Rewards® Members, including Employees with an account, the opportunity to donate their Points to select organizations. Travel is an essential component for these organizations as they provide mission-critical services and special experiences for their communities. In the spirit of giving and to welcome our new Points for a Purpose partners, we are donating 300,000 Rapid Rewards® points to be split between the three new organizations. While we support these three organizations through our annual giving initiatives, adding them to the Points for a Purpose program allows our Customers and Employees an opportunity to support their mission and work too!
The seven organizations supported through Points for a Purpose reflect the needs of the diverse communities Southwest serves and we know their impact will leave a mark, creating a better place for communities in the future. The transformational work these organizations accomplish ranges from providing assistance during and after disasters; supporting survivors of human trafficking; honoring our military; helping students from diverse populations develop into future leaders; and making a positive impact on our environment.
Our Heart is to take care of People. Championing and empowering our communities is more important than ever before. We encourage you to join us in this global generosity movement and donate your Points. Be sure to tune in to our social channels to learn more about how these partners are building resilience across the country. At Southwest, we believe community is more than a place, it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.
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Since March, Southwest Airlines has worked tirelessly to support our Employees, Customers, and communities impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite continued challenges to our business, it’s inspiring to see our Employees come together to think creatively and help those in need.
Southwest has put our Heart in Action to respond in meaningful and authentic ways. In fact, through our cumulative efforts, we’ve provided more than $1 million in support to help those on the frontlines of this crisis. We remain dedicated to serving in unique ways that are true to Southwest to help our communities when they need us most.
Our crisis response efforts started with donations of flights and cargo services. We provided more than 150 complimentary flights for medical personnel to assist in highly-impacted areas. We also donated our cargo services to humanitarian relief organizations shipping PPE, ventilators, and other life-saving medical devices across the country.
With many of our training classes going virtual, there was a decreased need in hotel rooms previously reserved. Southwest coordinated with our longtime partner the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (RMHD) to put these hotel rooms to good use! We donated 160 hotel rooms to RMHD for families needing assistance while the House was unable to accept new family guests for health and Safety reasons.
This year, we celebrated the 35 th LUV Classic & Party in a unique way by donating $1 million to 101 local charities focused on serving children, their families, and communities. with a special focus on COVID-19 relief efforts. This donation was timely and critical to ensure these organizations can continue their missions. It’s important to note, this donation was made from existing LUV Classic event funds housed at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and is separate from the Company’s operating budget.
In May, we engaged our Customers through a giving campaign to help build resilient communities. Customers who donated a minimum of $25 to Feeding America, American Red Cross, and Team Rubicon were offered 10x the Rapid Rewards® Points for each dollar given. Through this promotion, our Customers donated more than $650,000 to support the vital services needed for families across the country impacted by COVID-19.
With food shortages across the U.S., we identified a unique opportunity to donate our inflight snack and beverage service product that was currently going unused. Through this donation, we were able to provide nearly 13 tractor-trailers full of product to 15 food banks nationwide. These donations were valued at $655,000 and in addition to the food banks, they supported hospitals and community partners.
While many zoos remain closed around the country, our friends in the animal kingdom still need to eat, too. So, when the Denver Zoo reached out to our Cargo Team for help transporting food for their animals, we happily donated our shipping services to get these animals the grub they needed.
For nearly 50 years, Southwest has connected people and championed communities. As a Company, we marshal our resources to help the communities thrive where our Employees and Customers live and work. Even in times of financial crisis, the Southwest Family rallied to find creative resources to show communities that we are more than just an airline, we are their neighbor.
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For more than two decades, Southwest’s Community Outreach efforts have centered on developing and nurturing authentic relationships around our network with organizations committed to building resilient communities. We believe in championing causes that matter most and ensure our investments mirror the diverse communities we serve. With the increased dialogue around racial injustice, we have been able to lean on long-standing relationships we have with several organizations to help us as we listen, learn, and act. As Gary shared last week, “We stand alongside our Black Employees, Customers, and communities whose voices will no longer be silenced. There is plenty of work to be done, but we are committed to doing our part to drive change.”
Southwest is donating $500,000 through the Southwest Airlines Foundation (a corporate-advised fund within the Silicon Valley Community Foundation) to the National Urban League and 100 Black Men of America. This donation is above our continued local investments and will help advance the mission of these organizations at this critical moment in our country. It is being made from a protected fund, set aside from our normal operating expenses, for the sole purpose of allowing Southwest to make charitable contributions around our system.
We’ve been proud to support the National Urban League and 100 Black Men of America in their efforts to promote education, mentorship, and leadership development as they lift up Black communities all across the country. Our funds will be used to support long-term, sustainable change through national strategies and local initiatives centered on their impactful programs. Both organizations conduct crucial work that help create a catalyst for change and encourage Black men and women to realize their highest potential.
We invite our Employees and Customers to join us in supporting these organizations by visiting southwest.com/liftingcommunities and sharing this link with friends and family.
“The 100 is grateful for its corporate partnerships with those who stand with us in support of social justice,” said John E Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of 100 Black Men of America. “Together, we can progress toward racial equality, economic equity, social justice, healthcare parity, and human dignity in the communities we serve.”
“As we move forward to create a more equitable economy that expands opportunities for all, the National Urban League is more grateful than ever for our partnership with Southwest,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Southwest understands that strength lies in diversity and access to economic opportunity builds stronger and more vibrant communities.”
For nearly 50 years, Southwest has lived by a culture of love and followed the Golden Rule. While these guiding principles are not new to us, we’re using current events as an opportunity to look at them through a fresh lens. There’s work to be done, but we know, together, we will continue to spread inclusion, hope, love, and kindness across the communities we serve.
No matter what comes our way, we will continue to look out for one another because community is more than a place, it’s at the heart of what brings us together.
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In addition to National Volunteer Month, we also celebrate Earth Day during April. This week our #HeartInAction efforts focus on living responsibly because our Heart is to do what’s right by championing our communities and respecting our resources.
One of the many ways Southwest works to responsibly care for our resources is through our Repurpose with Purpose (RwP) initiative. Through this global sustainability program, and with the help of partner organizations, we’ve upcycled, downcycled, and recycled more than one million pounds of discarded materials into useful products. Working with partner organizations allows Southwest to do more than upcycle materials – we’re helping to build resilient communities. Through our innovative programs and practices like RwP, we work to minimize our environmental footprint, while maximizing our social impact.
At Southwest, we recognize environmental efforts can be more effective when we work together. As we near the end of April, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how you can keep putting your Heart in Action and steward our resources. It can be as simple as picking up trash on your walk or shopping online with organizations like our RwP partner Rethreaded. Keep reading to learn how supporting this organization can help champion communities.
Thank YOU for doing your part in giving the world Heart today and every day. The following was written by Rebekah Suwak, Director of Marketing at Rethreaded:
Rethreaded exists to provide impactful work for survivors of human trafficking. Our clients begin with a three-month development program that includes on-the-job training as well as mental health counseling, crisis management, and case management. They are then fully integrated into the business through one of five departments and are pivotal in all aspects of the organization. Through important work combined with our integrated health services, women find renewed hope and reignited potential.
Our business has evolved in significant and tangible ways since we first began our partnership with Southwest Airlines. We received a call nearly three years ago from Southwest about joining the Repurpose with Purpose initiative. Of course, we said yes! Southwest donated a truckload of leather to Rethreaded after refurbishing seats on its aircraft. We continue to find innovative ways to work with the leather, along with additional support from Southwest, including an industrial sewing machine and leather cutting machine, we began to produce more complex products that are a part of the Rethreaded x Southwest Collection.
Every purchase supports this meaningful work for survivors of human trafficking. By shopping with and supporting Rethreaded, you’re making a difference in the lives of incredible women and making a positive impact on the environment.
At Rethreaded, we value the importance of the healing process, protecting our environment, and treasuring the Earth. When you purchase a leather item from Rethreaded, we guarantee you will receive a one-of-a-kind item created with love. Plus, it’s a great way to keep a piece of Southwest with you at all times!
Keep the hope and positivity going! Invite your friends to join us in giving the world Heart. Share how you’re putting your #HeartInAction by using this hashtag on your social posts and emailing your stories and images to email@example.com. Your submission may encourage fellow Employees to give back and could be featured in future volunteerism highlights!
Visit the Volunteer page at SWALife >Culture >Volunteerism for a complete resource guide to inspire your virtual volunteering efforts!
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We’re about halfway through April and National Volunteer Month, and we continue to be inspired by our Employees and Customers as they put their Heart in Action and embrace giving the world Heart.
Last week we focused on loving People by spreading messages of encouragement and hope. This week we’re focused on building resilience by showing support for the communities where our Customers and Employees live and work. There are so many different ways we can help to empower communities—despite the current limitations of in-person volunteer opportunities.
Thank you to everyone who is investing their time, resources, skills, and personal passions to support their local communities. Keep reading below to learn how supporting Southwest’s longstanding partner, the American Red Cross, during this time can make a difference.
The following was written by Kim Delevett, Southwest Airlines Community Outreach Lead
When responding to a disaster, Southwest’s first and foremost concern is the Safety and well-being of our Employees and their families. Our next step is to reach out to disaster response organizations, like the Red Cross, to assess the affected community’s needs. As a sponsor of their Annual Disaster Giving Program, Southwest works year-round with the Red Cross to evaluate needs and to support disaster response plans.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a huge deficit in the number of available blood donations. Understandably, with workplaces, college campuses, and schools temporarily closed, blood drives at these locations have been canceled. It has become increasingly difficult to ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need because more than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at these locations. While many are answering the call to help stabilize the blood supply, it’s important to remember that blood donations are perishable and must be continuously replenished, even during this crisis.
Now it’s time to put our Heart in Action by rolling up our sleeves to donate blood. A single blood donation can help save more than one life. Rest assured, the Red Cross follows the highest standards of safety and infection control to help protect its staff and donors. Visit the Red Cross website to find donation opportunities and to learn more about safety precautions and tips to ensure a successful donation.
If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment now by visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling (800) RED CROSS or (800) 733-2767.
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During National Volunteer Month throughout April, we’ve invited our Southwest Family to put their Heart in Action through a nationwide virtual volunteerism effort because we focus on giving the world Heart today and every day. Even with the current limitations of in-person volunteer opportunities, there are still ways we can champion our communities and serve others in need.
This week we’re focused on Loving People by spreading messages of encouragement to those who need it most, including first responders, senior citizens, teachers, and veterans. Keep reading below to check out how Southwest’s Ana Schwager supported one of our partner organizations that is in need of some Heart right now: Make-A-Wish kids.
The following was written by Ana Schwager, Southwest Airlines Community Outreach Lead
I WISH to meet my favorite celebrity. I WISH to be a mechanic. I WISH to see the ocean.
These are just a few of the wishes Southwest Airlines has helped grant for Make-A-Wish® kids since our partnership began in 2011. In fact, we’ve been a part of more than 4,000 wishes bringing joy to children with critical illnesses. A wish coming true can help children feel stronger, more energetic, and more willing and able to battle their critical illnesses. A wish renews hope, uplifts spirits and encourages the belief in the impossible.
Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many kids have to wait a little longer for a life-changing wish trip. As a way to share hope with Make-A-Wish kids waiting for their wish to come true, we invite you to create and share messages of hope and encouragement on your social media channels. Here’s how:
Create a message, video, photo, song, dance – whatever you can imagine – sharing a message of hope.
Post to social media, tag @MakeAWish (@MakeAWishAmerica on Instagram) and use the hashtags, #WishesAreWaiting #HeartinAction #SouthwestHeart
Spread hope and joy by tagging two or more of your friends to join in.
The Southwest Heart is about loving People. So, let’s show Make-A-Wish kids all over the country we can’t wait to begin connecting them to their wishes soon!
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Today and every day at Southwest Airlines, we focus on giving the world Heart. And in these unprecedented times, that might just be more important than ever. While Teams at Southwest are hard at work supporting our Employees and Customers in the wake of the coronavirus, we remain committed to the communities where we live and work. Responding in times of disaster is one of the many ways we live out our People-first culture. We’re dedicated to supporting organizations on the front line during this challenging time as they work tirelessly to help our communities across the country.
Southwest has been actively supporting communities impacted by the coronavirus. We have reached out to FEMA, our disaster response partners, and our Medical Transportation Grant Program (MTGP) hospitals to offer complimentary cargo transport to support their important work. Qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can now inquire directly with Charters and Cargo about COVID-19 relief related shipping opportunities at swacargo.com. In addition, we are providing our MTGP hospitals flexibility to use their donated tickets to transport medical professionals around the country.
To kick off National Volunteer Month throughout April, Southwest Employees will rally to support our communities and serve others in need. Inspired by the stories of our fellow Employees making a difference, we invited our Southwest Family to put their Heart in Action through a nationwide virtual volunteerism effort because social distancing shouldn’t keep us from being neighbors. While this current crisis limits in-person volunteer opportunities, there are still ways we can put our Heart in Action to support our family, friends, neighbors, and communities as we navigate through these extraordinary times. Because at Southwest, we believe community is more than a place –it's at the Heart of what brings us together.
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