The JetBlue Foundation uses grantmaking to encourage and advance aviation-related education and ignite interest in STEM programs.
JetBlue Airways wanted to make air travel feel not only human – but inspiring. The discount carrier partners with Blackbaud for a grantmaking solution that allows JetBlue respond to both the needs of the communities where it operates and its own team members’ challenges.
JetBlue founding member Icema Gibbs remembers the early days of JetBlue Airways and a novel idea driving the New York-based airline: Personality and purpose could be profitable.
“We started this airline with the notion of bringing humanity back to air travel,” said Gibbs, vice president of the JetBlue Foundation and director of corporate social responsibility for the airline. “We morphed that into inspiring humanity. That’s who we are and who we will continue to be.”
The result? An airline with a mission that soon developed into a formal program—JetBlue for Good—with three focus areas: youth and education, community, and the environment. JetBlue’s programming includes free book vending machines for children in areas of need, a farm at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and aviation education and training for underrepresented demographics in the industry.
“We struggled with wanting to be a good corporate citizen, and that meant we were doing a lot of things in a lot of different areas, and it was hard to say what we stood for, because we were trying to stand for everything,” Gibbs said. “So we decided to go where we could have the most impact.”
Now after two decades of humanizing air travel and trying to make a difference, JetBlue looks to technology to unite people and drive the most impact in an efficient and meaningful way. “If JetBlue were a person, people would want to be our friend,” Gibbs said. “Since we have that advantage, we should use it.”