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General Information

Norfolk Southern Foundation was established in 1983 to direct and implement Norfolk Southern Corporation's charitable giving programs. Through strategic investment in educational, cultural, environmental and human service organizations within the region served by Norfolk Southern, the Foundation seeks to raise the standards of such programming, thereby enhancing the quality of life for Norfolk Southern employees and enhancing the "livability" of the communities it serves.

The Foundation's intent is to help ensure that:

  • Our region's children are provided with first-class educational opportunities that make them productive and valued employees in the future;
  • Our communities can provide basic human services (food, shelter and medical care) to those in need; and
  • Our communities can offer their citizens access to cultural opportunities that make life more enjoyable; and
  • Our communities can provide residential and work environments that are safe, attractive and desirable.

As a major employer in both large and small communities throughout the eastern United States, Norfolk Southern takes seriously its role as a corporate citizen and its responsibility to commit resources, both human and financial, to the improvement of those communities for the benefit of our employees and our neighbors.

In 2012, charitable and other contributions totaled approximately $10.69 million.

Grant Programs

Norfolk Southern Foundation offers grants in four principal areas:

  • Educational programs, primarily at the post-secondary level;
  • Community enrichment focusing on cultural and artistic organizations;
  • Environmental programs; and
  • Health and human services (food banks, homeless programs and independent free clinics).

Grants are awarded only to eligible organizations located within Norfolk Southern Corporation territory that are described under either Section 170 (c)(1) or Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Grants may be awarded for specific projects, including capital projects or for general operating support. In addition to those ineligible organizations listed below, Norfolk Southern Foundation DOES NOT fund debt retirement, block grants, or projects in which we are asked to be the sole-funder.

Applications will not be accepted from:

  • Organizations not in the NS territory (must be served by Norfolk Southern to be considered)
  • Organizations that do not have a 501(c)(3) or 170(c)(1) IRS letter
  • Individuals or organizations established to help individuals
  • Religious, fraternal, social, military or veterans organizations
  • Political or lobbying organizations
  • Public or private elementary and secondary schools
  • PTA groups or any public or private school affiliated club, organization, event or activity
  • Fundraising events, telethons, races or benefits
  • Amateur, civic, or professional Sports or athletic organizations, clubs or activities
  • Community or private foundations, or other organizations that merely redistribute to other eligible organizations aggregated contributions
  • Disease-related or health-focused organizations
  • Non-teaching hospitals (projects must be educational in scope and community focused)
  • Mentoring programs
  • Boys and Girls Scout programs or similar organizations
  • Animal organizations
  • Non-US based charities & initiatives
  • Organizations whose programs have an international and/or national scope
  • Civic leagues
  • Referral or consulting agencies and organizations

To Apply for a Grant

Under the Foundation's program of discretionary funding, grant requests are accepted only between July 15 and September 30 for funding in the following calendar year. There is no formal application.

Electronic requests must include the following:

  1. A valid email address
  2. A valid 501(c)(3) or 170(c)(1) letter from the IRS - tax-exempt status will be electronically verified as part of the on-line application procedure
  3. A short request outlining objectives of organization, project and intended use of funds
  4. Board of Directors Listing
  5. Sources of Funding (current and potential)
  6. Last 3 Years of IRS 990 filings
  7. Budget for proposed project (if applicable)
  8. Comprehensive budget for requesting organization
  9. A valid email address and contact phone number for person that can answer any questions with regard to RFF

Decisions will be made by December 31 for the following year's discretionary funding program. Notification will be made by email early in the following calendar year. The Vice President and Executive Officer and the Executive Director are responsible for the interpretation and administration of the Foundation's grant program, and their decision is final.


Norfolk Southern Foundation offers limited sponsorships for certain events in our territory that benefit     or promote NS business and social interests. Factors considered in sponsorship requests include relationships with charitable organizations, community impact, appropriateness of funding level, and timing of requests.  When considering Norfolk Southern as potential sponsor for events, please remember that we sell no retail product and have limited interest in naming & exposure opportunities.

Norfolk Southern Foundation’s determination of what qualifies as a corporate sponsorship may differ from other businesses.  Some events that are traditionally funded through corporate sponsorships are funded by Norfolk Southern Foundation through the general Grant Program.  Please contact the Executive Director to inquire as to which funding program is appropriate for your request.

Although there is no formal deadline for corporate sponsorships, it is suggested that you discuss sponsorship requests  well in advance of the event, as Norfolk Southern’s corporate budget is set one year prior. 

While you may submit sponsorship requests via email to the Executive Director ( at any time, please note that hundreds of requests are submitted yearly. Those organizations making direct contact via phone or email, discussing potential requests beforehand, and submitting proposals early are more likely to be considered for funding.  NS Foundation makes no guarantee of review for funding requests submitted by organizations not obtaining pre-approval by the Executive Director as outlined above.  Please refer to Local Discretion Grant Guidelines


The Local Discretion Grant Program is a dedicated, Division-based small contributions program ($500 -$3,000) that helps promote community goodwill, diversity, and safety awareness at the local level.  This program enables Norfolk Southern to enhance relationships with the communities in which our employees work and live, and allows local NS facilities and employees to take credit for good corporate citizenship.  Local Discretion giving supplements rather than replaces the traditional funding programs of Norfolk Southern Foundation and enables Division representatives to personalize corporate contributions.

All qualifying organizations interested in obtaining local discretion grant funding should make contact with those local ns employees with whom they have professional affiliations or connections.  NSF encourages local division representatives to give back to those organizations they with whom they have working relationships and partnerships.  As such, NSF does not provide contact numbers for local division representatives. .  Please refer to Local Discretion Grant Guidelines for program details.