Michael Ward, CEO of CSX Corp., and his wife Kim have devoted a lifetime to doing GOOD in the world. Through the Michael and Kim Ward Foundation, their greatest focus is in helping young people who have learning, emotional or physical disabilities as well as low-income and at-risk youth through education to reach their greatest potential.
Working tirelessly behind the scenes to make a difference, the Wards, through their foundation have provided millions of dollars of assistance to universities, schools, veterans’ and child-serving organizations.
Not only do the Wards give of their personal resources, Michael mobilizes the resources of CSX to community activities to make a difference. Whether it’s making strategic decisions in board meetings to advance a cause or wrapping gifts for those in need, this couple will be found working side by side with other volunteers. They are described repeatedly as big-hearted, humble people who want their work to speak for itself. They are passionate about the Jacksonville community and quietly and with humility building many charities from the ground up.
One recipient of their generosity is Edward Waters College, a school with ninety percent of the student body on financial aid and dependent on donations to carry out its mission. EWC not only received a million dollar grant for capacity building from the foundation, but the backing of CSX resources and employee involvement. CSX volunteers give their time to clean up and beautify the campus, and CSX provides railway transportation for college recruiting trips.
Michael is also passionate about The Wounded Warriors Project. In 2009 he received the Tony Snow award, which recognizes a citizen in corporate America, who by their actions has made a significant difference in the lives of injured servicemen and women – and who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Wounded Warrior Project and its mission. Additionally, CSX is the only two-time recipient of the Department of Defense’s Employer Support Freedom Award.
One of the most notable contributions the Wards have made in our community is in bringing City Year, an organization that focuses on reducing school dropout rates, to Jacksonville. Normally it takes two years to launch a City Year program in a community, but with the Wards strong belief in public education and Kim’s unrelenting focus as a driving force, City Year Jacksonville was launched in just seven months. Michael’s commitment to personal philanthropy and corporate citizenship was also recognized last year with City Year’s prestigious Lifetime of Idealism Award. Not only do the Wards give generously to build our community, but by their example lead others to also get involved, perpetuating an unending cycle of GOOD.
Michael and Kim Ward will receive the Bernard V. Gregory Servant Leader Award at Celebrate!GOOD 2014.