Norfolk Southern is committed to providing human and financial resources to help build stronger communities. Through grants to educational, cultural, environmental, and human service organizations, the Norfolk Southern Foundation — the corporation’s charitable giving arm — seeks to enhance the quality of life for employees and the livability of the communities the railroad serves.
In 2014, total Foundation, business, and corporate cash donations totaled nearly $13.2 million and went to more than 1,000 organizations across the network. Those funds included contributions to designated charities under the corporation’s Good Government Fund Matching Contributions Program and under a separate Foundation program that provided more than $1.7 million to match employee and retiree donations to nearly 500 nonprofit organizations.
In addition to those priorities, the Foundation supports the company’s efforts to enhance workplace diversity, awarding grants to organizations that support higher education for minorities and women, more productive community relations, and services to underserved populations in the railroad’s territory.
|# OF ORGANIZATIONS / INSTITUTIONS||AMOUNT|
|United Way||89 Organizations||$1,652,020|
|Other Health & Human Services||129 Organizations||$1,107,527|
|Culture & Arts||76 Organizations||$1,734,520|
|Civic & Community||126 Organizations||$710,685|
|Environment & Ecology||21 Organizations||$261,500|
|Matching Gifts (Employees and Retirees)||487 Organizations (1,263 Gifts, 455 Individual Donors)||$1,764,071|
|Arts & Culture||205 Institutions (664 Gifts)||$662,478|
|Education||263 Institutions (580 Gifts)||$1,078,832|
|Environment||19 Organizations (45 Gifts)||$22,711|
|Good Government Fund Matching Contributions||$994,489|
In August 2014, Beacon Wealth, a faith-based investment advisory firm that focuses on “morally responsible investing,” recognized Norfolk Southern as a “Shining Light Company.”
Based in Roanoke, Va., Beacon Wealth singled out the railroad for community safety, efforts to reduce business impacts on the environment, and charitable giving through our Norfolk Southern Foundation. The investment firm said its Shining Light designation is for “exemplary companies who live out the Golden Rule in their business practices, demonstrate strong servant leadership, and create compelling value through the products and services they offer.”
The Civic Leadership Institute, a Hampton Roads, Va., nonprofit connecting area leaders with community groups, awarded Norfolk Southern its 2014 Corporate Darden Award for Regional Leadership. The institute cited the railroad’s scope of community engagement through volunteerism and our history of corporate philanthropy, which included more than $2.6 million in 2013 to support human services, educational, cultural, environmental, and civic initiatives across the region.
Through its local discretion program, the corporation annually allows each of the railroad’s 11 operating divisions to recommend up to $17,000 in grants to qualifying organizations. These grants typically go to local fire, rescue, and police departments; arts, cultural, and recreational organizations; and human services organizations such as food banks and homeless shelters.
“That’s where you get Norfolk Southern employees involved all over the system,” said Deb Butler, executive vice president planning and chief information officer. “They take very seriously the responsibility of being good stewards of that money.”
Norfolk Southern supports public-private partnerships that generate mutual benefits for the railroad and communities the company serves. In Chicago that took the form of a land exchange that enables the railroad to expand a key rail yard and provides neighborhood residents with open space for recreation.
Under the no-cost deal, the city acquired an abandoned 1.7-mile rail line in Englewood from Norfolk Southern, while the railroad acquired a tract of city-owned land to expand the 63rd Street Intermodal Yard. The city plans to eventually redevelop the old rail property, which encompasses 17 acres, into a linear park and nature trail.
The swap provided Norfolk Southern with about five acres of vacant property that will be incorporated into a planned 6.5-acre expansion to accommodate business growth at the 63rd Street Yard.
Norfolk Southern donated $25,000 to Chicago Public Schools and $10,000 to Sherwood Park, a neighborhood recreational facility in the Englewood neighborhood, as part of a three-year commitment.
City officials said the grants would fund after-school activities and landscaping at the park and robotics projects at local elementary schools. Norfolk Southern plans similar donations in 2015 and will continue to invest in Englewood, home to the company’s 47th Street and 63rd Street Intermodal Yards, two of the largest on the network.
"Norfolk Southern has made a strategic decision to grow in Chicago when other railroads are expanding in the suburbs," said Herbert Smith, community and legislative relations manager for Norfolk Southern in Chicago. "Chicago is front and center for our network, and as we grow, so, too, do the opportunities for economic development and grants for the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Norfolk Southern encourages employees to connect with their communities by volunteering. Beja Jackson in 2014 earned a company SPIRIT award, which recognizes employees who exemplify our core values of Safety, Performance, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork.
Beja Jackson, a secretary in Norfolk Southern’s coal business group, tears up when she talks about the holiday giving projects she started two seasons ago in Roanoke, Va. The projects provided food and necessities to the local Rescue Mission Ministries and the Salvation Army’s Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter.
Before becoming a Norfolk Southern employee in 2012, she and her husband had lost previous jobs simultaneously during the recession, and she experienced the fear of not being able to provide for her own child. That heightened her sensitivity to community needs.
“I wanted to help,” she said, “so I called up both the Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army and asked them what they needed most.”
During the 2013 holiday season, Jackson initiated The Christmas Tree Project, asking co-workers to donate canned foods to build a Christmas tree of cans. “We collected money, too,” she said, “and we went to Sam’s Club and bought frozen hamburger, chicken breasts, frozen broccoli, hot dogs, peanut butter, juice boxes for the kids — all kinds of things we felt would go a long way.”
With 30 to 40 Norfolk Southern employees participating, the Christmas Tree Project generated around $1,800 in food.
With that success, Jackson decided during the 2014 holidays to repeat a giving project for the women’s shelter. “We built a Christmas tree out of 44 shoe boxes, which we filled with gifts for children,” Jackson said. “Many battered women who come to these shelters have their children with them, and these kids often don’t get anything for Christmas.”
Employees in the coal group stuffed the boxes with books, crayons, pens, pencils, piggy banks filled with coins, socks, hats, and toothpaste and toothbrushes. Employees also donated basketballs and footballs. “As we reach out as a team in our communities, it puts a human face on Norfolk Southern,” she said. “When we relate as humans and help people when they need help, that’s probably one of the most sustainable things we can do as a company.”