Best Business Neighbor Finalist: UPS Foundation

UPS Foundation: Delivering Disaster Relief to Communities in Need

Natural disasters affect everyone. Through the Logistics Action Teams, the UPS Foundation has established a long-term initiative that will support and aid communities in times of need.


Every year, companies, nonprofits and the local and federal government spend millions on preparedness and recovery for natural disasters. It’s estimated that for every one dollar invested in disaster planning can save four dollars in response. To help the American Red Cross (ARC) increase its disaster preparedness and response capabilities, the UPS Foundation has formed a strategic partnership to provide skilled volunteers at the local level.

With support from UPS, the Red Cross opened 1,019 shelters, provided 6.7 million meals/snacks, distributed 2.6 million relief items and activated 27,622 disaster workers for the 131 large-scale disasters in 2011.

In addition to the more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service provided by UPS to local American Red Cross Chapters and millions in financial support, UPS also works with ARC Disaster Services Coordinators to assist with hurricane preparedness and response leveraging UPS’s core logistics capabilities. UPS has assigned highly-qualified UPS staff to serve on rapid response teams called Logistics Action Teams (LATs). The LAT volunteers work to improve ARC emergency response capabilities in hurricane prone states and other states such as California, to assist with disaster preparations, relief efforts and long-term recovery. UPS provides technical expertise through loaned managers to support supply chain initiatives, hurricane preparedness, warehouse optimization and commodity tracking systems to strengthening Red Cross efforts to respond to disasters.

What UPS has Accomplished

The premise behind the LAT strategic initiative is that when working together, combined disaster expertise with logistics expertise helps ensure an efficient and effective response. Key to the program’s success is close collaboration between the LAT and the local Red Cross Chapter. LAT members visit local chapters and often participate in their disaster readiness meetings.

UPS logistical support and prepositioning of relief supplies in strategic locations along the U.S. coast in advance of hurricane season enabled the Red Cross to respond more efficiently during disasters and improved relief efforts for the 131 large-scale disasters in 2011. With support from UPS, the Red Cross opened 1,019 shelters, provided 6.7 million meals/snacks, distributed 2.6 million relief items and activated 27,622 disaster workers.

As Hurricane Isaac began tracking toward the U.S this Fall, the UPS LATs were activated initially in Florida.  As the storm’s path changed, LATs in Louisiana and Houston began to pre-stage supplies for the impending storm.  As the tropical storm intensified and began tracking for New Orleans, teams in Alabama and Georgia were activated to help mobilize supplies to the impacted areas providing 48,000 ready meals, 10 truckloads of relief supplies, and 5 truckloads of bottled water and dry food items.

The UPS LAT has helped communities across the country and around the world. UPS helped to coordinate relief efforts for flood victims in North Dakota and New Orleans, communities affected by Hurricane Irene along the East Coast and victims of the wildfires in Texas. UPS also assisted the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces Program by airlifting 50,000 comfort kits to Japan and South Korea for armed forces personnel following the devastating earthquake in Japan.

Why This Project Makes Sense

The Logistics Action Team strategic initiative provided an avenue for UPS and Red Cross staff to develop relationships at the local level. These relationships are leading to new and innovative ways of partnering, for example:

  • UPS Local Action Team members worked side-by-side with local Red Cross volunteers during Hurricane Isaac in Disaster Operation Centers across the Gulf providing much needed expertise and technical assistance for the disaster relief effort.
  • UPS is now offering in-kind technological support that is being piloted in the Southeast Region which enables the Red Cross to track supplies deployed during disaster response.
  • In New Orleans American Red Cross hurricane evacuation maps are available at UPS Stores throughout the city.
  • During the UPS/ARC training session in Florida, knowledge sharing on ARC evacuation strategies led to discussions of sharing intelligence regarding roadblocks and other transportation barriers during a disaster.
  • UPS engagement at the local level enhances community resilience through increased board leadership by UPS volunteers, who bring additional capacity building, funding and volunteer support to local chapters.

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