Southwest Opens its Heart to Young Audiences

Jill Simonson Luciano, Community  Affairs & Grassroots Team
Southwest Airlines
It’s rare to find one of the world’s most admired companies using love to measure success. Yet the stated vision of Southwest Airlines is to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline. Southwest, which even uses “LUV” as its trading symbol on the New York Stock Exchange, is generous in showing its love for causes that matter most in the communities it serves.
As the Official Airline Partner to Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Southwest contributes round-trip tickets to Young Audiences and its affiliates. These are used to bring teaching artists, classroom teachers, and staff members to professional development events around the country. In effect, Southwest is helping to strengthen the Young Audiences Arts for Learning Affiliate Network and the communities, schools, and children they serve.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Young Audiences in a way that enables its affiliate network to learn, discover, develop and grow,” says Jill Simonson Luciano, Southwest regional leader of community affairs and grassroots. “We know that when an organization has a large coast-to-coast network, it’s crucial for its stakeholders to gather together and learn best practices, share challenges and leave energized and focused. Many of these folks are the next generation of leaders.”
What resonates most for Southwest is Young Audiences’ commitment to the nation’s youth. “The organization is a fantastic example of a widespread movement that captures the talents, ambitions and drive our students – and educators – have to give. Young Audiences is one of the many nonprofit organizations we support that is changing the landscape of its communities. Now is a fabulous time to be part of the Young Audiences community because its mission and overall scope of work are best in class for arts education nonprofits.”
Creativity is at the heart of both Southwest and Young Audiences, which makes for a good fit between the two organizations. “Southwest is often singled out for the innovation and creativity displayed through many aspects of our business,” Jill says. “The work of Young Audiences in integrating the arts in education mirrors so many of our own attributes: bold, new thinking; fun in the workplace; teamwork; and discovery. We are always learning and growing at Southwest, just as students are who are enrolled in arts integrated education, regardless of grade level or curriculum.”
The relationship Southwest established with Young Audiences extends beyond the national office to many affiliates. In April 2013, for example, Young Audiences of Rochester helped Southwest celebrate its service launch at the Greater Rochester International Airport. “Young Audiences regularly presents Southwest with new and exciting ideas to keep our partnership activities fresh, and they have done a fantastic job of recognizing – and valuing - the contribution we offer,” Jill says.
On a personal level, Jill has had several Young Audiences experiences. While attending the National Conference last year in New York, she heard firsthand from teaching artists, affiliate leaders and their board members. She and Young Audiences staff also sat in on classes with teaching artists. “What was so telling for me, seeing the arts educators in action, is the patience, creativity and compassion they have for their students. Teaching is an art form in and of itself, and the support they receive from Young Audiences enables these talented educators to focus, inspire and, most of all, motivate their classrooms.”

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