The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant program was developed to support and activate public spaces in the heart of cities served by Southwest Airlines. Through a six-year partnership with Project for Public Spaces, the program leveraged the power of placemaking to spark social, economic, and environmental benefits in communities across the United States and abroad.
As program administrators, Project for Public Spaces managed an open selection process for grant recipients, delivered capacity-building support and cohort-based learning opportunities, and provided technical assistance throughout the program from community engagement to design and implementation.
Essential to each project's success was developing collaborative partnerships with arts institutions, civic groups, local businesses, and other organizations. This diversity of voices in each community led to the design of unique, attractive, and accessible programming within each public space. By strengthening these community connections, each project developed a reach far beyond the physical public spaces themselves. The Heart of the Community Grant funded nineteen projects, nurturing strong local partnerships, building local placemaking capacity, and transforming how cities think about their public spaces.
The Heart of the Community program represented a breakout moment for placemaking. The partnership was highlighted in the 2015 United States Conference of Mayors Business Council Best Practice Report and garnered media attention from outlets such as Fast Company, GreenBiz, Net Impact, and Better Cities & Towns. By investing in placemaking, supporting research, and engaging their thousands of employees in placemaking volunteer efforts, Southwest Airlines helped bring to light the vital role public spaces play in our communities.
Place Evaluation & User Analysis
Community Engagement & Visioning
Place Plans & Design