Ford Challenges College Students' Spirit of Ingenuity and Innovation

Ford Challenges College Students' Spirit of Ingenuity and Innovation


Five universities have been selected as the 2009  winners of the Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) and awarded a grant to develop a sustainable, student-led community project.  Ford C3, a national initiative of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, challenged students from within Ford’s national network of higher education partners to develop innovative programs that create sustainable change in their communities. Through the winning projects, students will be creating an innovative and first-ever bike share program, assisting senior residents to better insulate their homes during winter, using information technology to increase energy efficiency within a community’s residential area, and assisting a local non-profit organization to significantly expand its operations.

"Education is a top priority for Ford Motor Company Fund,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We are pleased to be able to support the millennial spirit of innovation in these students, whose projects help address critical needs within their communities.”  

Through the Ford C3 program, which was launched in 2008, Ford reached out to its national network of Ford Advanced Education Partnership (FAEP) colleges and universities and invited them to compete in the Ford College Community Challenge. Participating schools worked with their local communities to put together proposals that utilized the school's resources and capacity to address a social need or problem in the local community.  Proposals had to address the theme of Ford C3 – Building Sustainable Communities – in some unique and innovative way.  Unlike many traditional college grant programs, Ford C3 requires colleges to create project proposals that have significant student input, involvement, and leadership from beginning to end.  As a result, winning proposals have a distinctive student perspective on what it means to have a sustainable community.   

“In the spirit of Michigan State University’s world-grant initiative, we are delighted to partner with Ford Motor Company to create the Michigan Export Growth Program which will develop model opportunities for businesses to become engaged in the global marketplace,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox. “This project will afford Michigan entrepreneurs access to the cutting-edge knowledge of our newly educated international business students, while also providing practical hands-on leadership experience for our students to ensure their future success.”

Response to the Ford College Community Challenge was significant, with 20 proposals from 16 of Ford's partner colleges and universities.  Five winning proposals were selected from the following schools: Michigan Tech University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan—Dearborn, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Michigan State University.  Each school will receive a one-time $50,000 award from Ford Motor Company Fund to implement their proposed project.   

“Even in today’s challenging economy, it’s refreshing to see the difference we can make in so many lives,” said Kerry Thompson, Graduate Student, College of Business, University of Michigan-Dearborn. “The Ford Fund grant empowers us students to apply our new knowledge to unfamiliar scenarios.  And to know that our work will help innovative programs such as ‘Reaching Our Potential Everyday’ to continue is simply inspiring! It truly showcases the impact a business degree can make through social entrepreneurship.”

All five winning projects will be launched at the beginning of the 2009 fall semester.  Ford Fund grant funding is designed to launch and sustain the projects through the first year of implementation, and then projects will continue supported by university and local resources. This is the second year that Ford C3 has awarded grants to partner universities for sustainable community projects. Last year’s projects included the Howard University School of Business Inner-City Redevelopment Model, aimed at bringing much needed economic and business development to underserved urban communities, and Wayne State University’s SEED project, whose goal was to develop sustainable food systems on the Wayne State campus and in the City of Detroit. These projects and three more are currently being implemented.


About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services is a community relations and philanthropic non-profit funded by Ford Motor Company. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2009, Ford Fund supports initiatives and institutions that foster and promote innovation in education, greater automotive safety and American heritage and diversity. National programs include Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS), which provides 21st century skills-based curriculum to more than 40,000 high school students; and Ford Driving Skills for Life, which has taught safe driving skills to more than 337,000 young drivers. In addition, the Ford Volunteer Corps, established in 2005, enlists the help of thousands of Ford employees and retirees who volunteer their time to continue Ford’s legacy of community service worldwide. For more information about programs made possibly by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, please visit, or  

Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 (Archive on Wednesday, November 11, 2015)
Posted by rcline  Contributed by rcline