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Heart of the Community


Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Awarded One of Three National Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grants

June 15, 2017 -The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is honored to have been selected as one of three 2017 awardees of a “Heart of the Community” national grant, the signature outreach program of Southwest Airlines and its lead partner, Project for Public Spaces. This grant program provides financial and technical assistance to local community partners “seeking to bring new life and connect people in its public spaces, creating more resilient cities.”

The winning project is called “Buffalo’s Reading Park,” and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is collaborating with partners City of Buffalo, Buffalo Place, Just Buffalo Literary Center, WNY Book Arts Center, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Plurality Press, Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning, in cooperation with Erie County, to create “Buffalo’s Reading Park” directly adjacent to the downtown Central Library. The Central Library is the anchor of the recently designated Literary Corridor on Washington Street. “Buffalo’s Reading Park” will be designed through a public input process to activate this very visible but under-utilized space. Literacy-supportive programs and attractive amenities will be a part of the park’s structure.

“We are elated and grateful to have had our Buffalo & Erie County Public Library project selected for this national award,” noted Library System Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. “We, along with our partners, can’t wait to get the public planning process under way. By next spring, you can expect the downtown Central Library to offer a vibrant outdoor space with free programs and activities that appeal to everyone.”


Here is the Southwest Airlines Media Release:
Building Resilient Communities


DALLAS—June 14, 2017—Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) announced today the recipients of the 2017 Southwest Airlines® Heart of the Community Grants in partnership with Project for Public Spaces. Through Southwest Airlines’ Heart of the Community program, Southwest Airlines is committed to building connections that bring People together to strengthen communities for a more resilient future. One of the ways the airline is accomplishing this is by supporting the creation, activation, and sustainability of vibrant community gathering spaces.

The 2017 Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant recipients include:

 Arts Council New Orleans in partnership with the Downtown Development District of New Orleans, Duncan Plaza, New Orleans, LA

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo’s Reading Park, Buffalo, NY

 Downtown OKC, Inc., Kerr Park, Oklahoma City, OK

“At Southwest Airlines, we build community wherever we are, whether at our gates, in our planes, or out in the communities we serve,” said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President and Chief Communications Officer. “That is the inspiration behind Southwest Airlines’ Heart of the Community program. By investing in authentic relationships and creating spaces and opportunities that bring people together, we can build connections and strengthen communities. We’re excited to see the positive impact each of these spaces will have as a result of these grants.”

Each 2017 Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant recipient will be eligible to receive up to $150,000 in total project funding through the Southwest Airlines Foundation, a corporate advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The 2017 grant recipients also will receive technical assistance from Project for Public Spaces.  

“Our goal in working with the 2017 Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant recipients is to help them create great public spaces where everyone in the community feels welcome,” said Fred Kent, Founder and President of Project for Public Spaces. “When people in communities come together in this effort, results are tangible and immediate, and the placemaking process itself helps to strengthen the sense of belonging, sociability, and inclusion that great places naturally generate.”  

Since 2013, the airline has invested more than $6.4M in building connections and has awarded 20 grants through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program. This year’s grant recipients were chosen from a competitive pool of 75 applicants representing 43 cities nationwide. Learn more.

ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.   In its 46th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 54,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest proudly operates a network of 101 destinations in the United States and nine additional countries with more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season. Service to Turks and Caicos begins Nov. 5, 2017, subject to requisite government approvals.

Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest created Transfarency®, a philosophy which treats Customers honestly and fairly, and in which low fares actually stay low.

Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some airlines may allow free checked bags on select routes or for qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply. The airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. A new logo, aircraft livery, 3 interior design featuring a new seat and Flight Attendant galley, Employee-designed uniforms, and an updated airport experience all showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees who connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.

From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 44 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2016 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at SouthwestOneReport.com. Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.

Southwest Media Contacts:

Visit the Southwest Newsroom at swamedia.com for multi-media assets and other Company news - Media Relations Team: 214-792-4847, option 1

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Media Contact: Joy Testa Cinquino, 

Photos and interviews available, 716-858-7182, testaj@buffalolib.org