Southwest Airlines
Heart of the Community

Southwest Airlines
Heart of the Community

Southwest Airlines
Heart of the Community

Investing in Placemaking

Heart of the Community is a signature outreach program of Southwest Airlines with a mission to build connections that bring people together and strengthen communities for a more resilient future.

Launched in 2014 with lead partner, Project for Public Spaces, the Heart of the Community grants provide financial and technical assistance to local community partners who seek to bring new life to their public spaces.

Southwest Airlines is in the business of connecting people to what’s important in their lives, whether it be to people or to places. By supporting central, vibrant, active public spaces, the Heart of the Community grants facilitate connections, which are the foundation for more resilient communities.

The goals of the Heart of the Community grants are to:

  • Help communities bring new life to their public spaces, transforming them into vibrant places that connect people and strengthen communities
  • Raise awareness of placemaking as a mainstream approach and a catalyst for building sustainable, healthy, inclusive, and economically viable communities
  • Encourage activation, participation, and volunteerism in public spaces to benefit local communities


At Project for Public Spaces, we have been helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities for almost 40 years. Over that time, we’ve seen placemaking grow into an international movement. It’s a movement that needs the energy and input of people in all walks of life to get us to the point where every community is empowered to shape its own public spaces.

The Heart of the Community program is a breakout moment for placemaking, and the partnership was highlighted in the 2015 United States Conference of Mayors Business Council Best Practice Report: Mayors and Businesses Driving Economic Growth. By investing in placemaking, supporting important research, and engaging their thousands of Employees in placemaking volunteer efforts, Southwest Airlines is making a bold statement about the vital role public spaces play in our communities.

Grant Information

We currently are not accepting new applications for the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant program.

In 2019, Southwest Airlines is proud to continue supporting PPS in building the placemaking movement and positioning placemaking as an instrumental approach to addressing economic, social and environmental issues by leveraging learnings from 25 grants awarded over the past 5 years through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program.

We encourage you to pursue your project! Please explore PPS’s extensive list of online resources or work with us directly. Additionally, here is a link to other placemaking funding sources, which may be appropriate for your project.


Research: Places in the Making

Southwest Airlines provided a gift to MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning to support the research white paper – “Places in the Making” – which reveals how placemaking has helped strengthen communities across the country. The research “examines the interactions between placemaking, community participation, and the expanding ways communities are collaborating to make great public spaces.” It outlines a range of case studies – from Houston’s Discovery Green to New York City’s Corona Plaza – to offer a snapshot of placemaking projects across the United States and showcase common elements essential to successful public places.

“Places in the Making” was released at an event in Cambridge, MA, on October 22, 2013, that featured a panel discussion of leading experts from MIT, Project for Public Spaces, Team Better Block, and The Kresge Foundation, and was moderated by The Wall Street Journal

“Placemaking puts power back in the hands of the people. The most successful placemaking initiatives transcend the ‘place’ to forefront the ‘making,’ and the benefits for community can be substantial and long-lasting.”
– Susan Silberberg, Lead Researcher and Lecturer, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning