Since 2013, the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, has awarded more than $3.6 million in grants and placemaking technical assistance to 20 organizations across the U.S. and Mexico City to transform their public spaces into thriving community gathering places.
This year, the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant was made available to previous recipients between 2013 – 2016 to support the ongoing evolution and sustainability of their public spaces. We are proud to announce this year’s recipients and continue our support of these great places!
Through the Southwest Airlines Foundation, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, each grantee will receive $100,000 in initial project funding, as well as an opportunity for a $25,000 dollar-for-dollar fundraising match. Grant recipients will also receive technical assistance from Project for Public Spaces in specific areas that were identified as a persisting challenge, opportunity, or need.
DowntownABQ Main Street has begun a new phase of planning for Civic Plaza looking at strategic opportunities around micro-economic development, interactive art, and all-ages play and relaxation. This project seeks to support three areas of improvement: physical enhancements, new events, and self-led programs.
Physical enhancements will include added seating to both the large grassy area, as well as around the new spray fountain. The inclusion of colored banners and string lights under the trellised walkway will enhance night time enjoyment and create a more festive setting.
In response to the requests from downtown employees and businesses, a mid-week, lunchtime market will be implemented and a new partnership with Explora children’s museum will bring STEM activities to the plaza to supplement existing family-friendly events.
Additionally, more self-led activities like large scale chess, ping pong, and swings have also been a request from the community that DowntownABQ Main Street strives to fulfill. A second giant Adirondack chair, as well as semi-permanent interactive art installations, will bring more fun photo opportunities for residents and visitors of Albuquerque.
Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) strives to engage and attract a new, more targeted audience to Woodruff Park, as well as better meet the needs of current users from underserved communities. In order to attract younger park users, ADID plans to work with Spark Corps, a local design firm focused on social impact, to engage students from a local high school and Georgia State University (GSU) in co-design activities. Additionally, they seek to support and staff the Game Cart for one year with a social worker who will connect Park visitors in need to social services and teach students about empathy and homelessness in Downtown Atlanta.
Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) and Detroit 300 Conservancy will build on five years of established success through amenities, layout, and program additions and improvements that serve to enhance the visitor experience at The Beach at Campus Martius Park. Proposed additions include refreshed amenities, enhancement of existing events, and the creation of new programs and innovative experiences that are attractive to families with children and adults.
Every activity, program, and event will celebrate Detroit by involving local partners, artists, entrepreneurs, and vendors who reflect the personality and culture of the city.
A key part of the Park’s success is exceptional customer service and hospitality. With the growing popularity of The Beach, the DDP and Conservancy also aim to add a beach guest attendant to support new programming objectives and ensure a positive experience for all visitors.
This year, Big Car Collaborative and Indianapolis City Market will continue regular programmed hours for East Plaza and work with artists-in-residence to engage the community in interactive art activities designed to connect people of all different backgrounds.
The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant will support the addition of new programs related to food—like cooking classes, night markets, and community meals that bring people together. Attractive outdoor lighting, heaters, and fire pits will also be added to support new events in both the evenings and winter months.
Big Car and City Market will also build on their social services work with partners such as Horizon House, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, and the YMCA to better reach and provide assistance to underserved individuals and families.
Lastly, funding will aid in the development of approaches for sustaining programming by identifying and pursuing on-site sources of income, facility rental income, and grant and sponsorship opportunities.
Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC) aims to further their placemaking mission in downtown Providence by activating a dormant space adjacent to the Imagination Center at Burnside Park. This space is a main entrance to the Park at the heart of Greater Kennedy Plaza.
The addition of new amenities, such as a flexible performance space/stage and artisan market stalls will support a range of events, community programming, and potential revenue-generating activity.
The Imagination Center will also receive some updates to its exterior, transforming it into a destination welcome center for tourists, highlighting public art, and providing information to connect community members to various services.
Existing programs will also be expanded earlier and later in the season in hopes of engaging new audiences, such as students on nearby campuses in spring, fall, and winter, as these are the future talent and workforce of Providence and the future stewards of our public spaces.