COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Five New Cities to Receive Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grant

Apr 11, 2016
Dec 14, 2017

It’s our favorite time of year! We get to announce and celebrate with the five U.S. cities that have been awarded Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grants.

In partnership with PPS, each year Southwest brings placemaking to the cities they serve through this innovative grant program, which highlights the importance of “place” and encourages communities to take an active part in creating and transforming the public spaces that they love.

Selected from a highly competitive pool of over 90 applicants from 60 cities, here are 2016’s five grant recipients:

  • Atlanta | Woodruff Park
  • Few big city public spaces offer as much opportunity as Woodruff Park. Located right in the heart of the old downtown, the space is already well-loved; it’s just missing that extra piece that will turn it from a good space into a great place. The resurgence of economic and cultural vitality in the area sets the stage for Woodruff Park to take its place as one of Atlanta’s key destinations. The Heart of the Community grant will allow Central Atlanta Progress to engage the community in this process, making sure the park can take full advantage of the dynamic energy that is pouring back into Downtown Atlanta.
  • Philadelphia | City Hall Courtyard
  • Every day thousands of Philadelphians walk under the magnificent facade of City Hall and through the iconic building's courtyard. Right now, many of them keep walking, but the City of Philadelphia is looking to change that. With their Heart of the Community grant, they are setting out make this courtyard a civic commons that celebrates the City’s rich history and sustainable future. This project will form a part of a network of public spaces stretching from Fairmount Park to City Hall, building on recent renovations of Dilworth Park and the JFK Plaza/LOVE Park.
  • Indianapolis | Monument Circle and Indianapolis City Market
  • This is a year of firsts for the Heart of the Community program, and we’re excited to mark two milestones in Indianapolis: our first joint program, and our first project with a public market. This grant will support two spaces, Monument Circle and Indianapolis City Market, that sit two blocks apart along Market Street. The Big Car Collaborative and the City Market have both worked to activate their respective spaces, and now this is an opportunity to take that programming to the next level and link these prime public spaces in Downtown Indianapolis.
  • Minneapolis | Hennepin Avenue between 5th and 10th Streets
  • Running alongside Minneapolis’s popular pedestrian Nicollet Avenue, Hennepin Avenue has long been the city’s cultural center. For our first Streets as Places Heart of the Community project, we’ll work with the Hennepin Theatre Trust to bring that culture to the public realm through an effort called “5 to 10 on Hennepin.” The group is seeking to better tie this street into Minneapolis’s downtown, setting it up as part of an active street network drawing pedestrians from around the city.
  • Los Angeles | Pershing Square
  • Many years ago, PPS placed Pershing Square on our list of “Underperforming U.S. Squares.” We couldn’t be happier to remove it from that list, thanks to the hard work of Pershing Square Renew. PPS worked with this organization last summer to bring the local community into the redesign process, and now we’re excited to see what they’ll do with this Heart of the Community grant, which they will use to activate LA’s oldest and most treasured park with a variety of Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper activities. This grant comes just days before the four finalists selected in an international design competition will present their visions in a public event at the Downtown Palace Theater on April 28, 2016.

By bringing community members and local organizations together to create a shared vision for their public spaces, the Heart of the Community grant program shows how placemaking can quickly transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary places that bring enduring social, cultural, and economic benefits to communities. Now entering its third year, the program has supported 18 transformative projects to date.

Interested in applying for a 2017 Heart of the Community grant? Information will be available this summer, but in the meantime, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more and sign up for program notifications.

Southwest's Pauline Morris-Ewing and Pearl Mapu in LA's Pershing Square
Southwest's Pauline Morris-Ewing and Pearl Mapu in LA's Pershing Square
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space