September is Ford Global Caring Month and in 2017 more than 19,000 current and retired employee volunteers participated in 559 projects around the world. These included:
- Australia: Installed water tanks at a camp for underprivileged young people
- Brazil: Helped build a facility to care for impoverished families and children with cancer
- China: Community gardening, beach clean-up and environmental education
- Germany: Assisted with preparations for a new refugee camp
- Mexico: Home construction, school and shelter renovation
- Philippines: Building community water facilities in villages
- South Africa: Installed equipment to capture and store water at schools, and carried out building repairs
The Ford Volunteer Corps is evolving its year-round efforts to make people’s lives better. Ford employees and nonprofit organizations have fully embraced our community volunteer work, but they need more flexibility to work around tight schedules or answer the call when nonprofits need it most. Responding to their feedback, we are now focused on four seasons of Ford volunteer service, rather than four days of concentrated efforts we called Ford Accelerated Action Days.
The seasons of service are:
- Spring: Children and Families, including the annual Diaper and Formula Drive in Michigan
- Summer: Better World, environmental projects, including the Green IT e-Waste Recycling Drive in June, which this year adds car seat recycling
- Fall: Community Building, with Ford Global Caring Month in September remaining our signature annual event
- Winter: Giving and Sharing, including hunger relief and the Kids’ Coat and Jacket Drive
The Ford Volunteer Corps is also encouraging skill-specific volunteering to better utilize the advanced skills of more employees, who will return for future service, providing sustainable support for nonprofits. More than 60 Ford employees are trained and certified to work this year with Accounting Aid Society, which provides free tax services for low-income people in southeast Michigan to make sure they receive earned income tax credits and other benefits they are entitled to when they file their tax returns. Most of the Ford employees assisting with tax returns work in accounting or finance. The dollars are critical to helping people become more self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.
The Bill Ford Better World Challenge is a global grant program, jointly funded by the company and Executive Chairman Bill Ford. Through the initiative, set up in 2015, employee volunteers can apply for grants, totaling up to $500,000 a year, to support transformational community service projects that address issues around mobility; basic needs, such as food and shelter; or access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
In 2017, we awarded $200,000 for two projects that will significantly improve health and sanitary conditions for people in India and Mexico:
- In the Kancheepuram district of India, 300 SMART toilets will be installed at residential homes to mitigate poor sanitation; the program includes education on good hygiene practices
- In Guayacan, Mexico, grant funds will build a community center where area residents can obtain uncontaminated water, have access to flushing toilets and receive a weekly free meal; the facility aims to serve 750 families