Since the mid–twentieth century, the UPS Foundation has given hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable organizations in the areas of education and hunger relief. The UPS Foundation also is dedicated to promoting volunteerism among its employees through many programs. In 2004 the foundation donated nearly $40 million worldwide.
Based in Atlanta, the UPS Foundation is the charitable arm of the United Parcel Service (UPS), a package delivery service with worldwide operations. The foundation originated in 1951, when UPS created the 1907 Foundation, named for the year that UPS opened for business. The 1907 Foundation focused initially on higher education by contributing to the endowments of colleges and universities around the nation. In 1976 the foundation was renamed the UPS Foundation. Evern Cooper Epps became its president in 1998.
Education and literacy have been the primary focus of the UPS Foundation. In 1974 it partnered with the Foundation for Independent Higher Education, an organization that provides funds to independent colleges and universities. The UPS Foundation launched the Literacy Initiative in 1988, a program that has provided funds to more than 400 community-based literacy programs. Through the initiative, the foundation had given nearly $12 million for literacy programs reaching 100 communities and an estimated 42,000 people as of 2004.
The UPS Foundation has, since 1995, also provided support to several agencies that specifically help American minority groups. That year, it began providing financial support to INROADS, a nonprofit program that organizes internships with local businesses for minority college students. In 2001 the foundation helped create the UPS/United Negro College Fund Corporate Scholars program, which provides both scholarship funds and internships to minority college students. Also in 2001, the foundation entered into an initiative to help bring the historic black press onto the Internet. The UPS Foundation also recognizes diverse educational programs; one scholarship gives financial assistance to those who wish to attend the NASCAR Technical Institute.
Beginning in the 1960s, UPS embarked on a variety of programs designed to encourage its employees to become involved in their local communities. The Community Internship Program, launched in 1968, immersed senior-level executives in community-related activities. In 1984 UPS created the Region/District Grant Program, which gave its employees the opportunity to recommend community-based organizations for funding. Launched in Florida in 1992 and expanded nationwide in 1996, the Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaign encouraged UPS employees and their families to volunteer in their communities.
The UPS Foundation created several programs specifically for the Atlanta area. A scholarship program provides funds to Atlanta college students who commit to tutoring for 150 hours per semester at local elementary schools, while the Business Strengthening America–Atlanta program helps local businesses and their employees become more involved in the community.
In 1982 the foundation partnered with the United Way, and since that time UPS employee donations have made UPS one of the largest corporate contributors to United Way—UPS and its employees gave $53 million in 2003 alone.
The UPS Foundation has also focused its efforts on helping the nation's poor. In 1989 it launched the Prepared and Perishable Food Rescue Program (PPFRP). Through grants and the sharing of technical expertise possessed by UPS employees, the PPFRP provides the funds and equipment necessary for local organizations to collect surplus cooked and perishable food from food-service establishments and distribute it to those in need of a meal.
In 2004 the foundation launched the National Collaboration to Reduce Hunger and Improve Nutrition. Through an initial grant of $2 million to eight local agencies, the foundation aims to raise awareness regarding the connection between chronic hunger, poor nutrition, and obesity.
In 1997, after Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the UPS Foundation helped organize the Welfare to Work Partnership between UPS and four other companies, which provides jobs for welfare recipients.
The UPS Foundation has won numerous awards for its efforts. In 1987 and 2002 it won the United Way's Spirit of America Award, that organization's highest honor. It received the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Citizenship in 2001 and, in 2002, received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Corporate Citizen of the Year Award.