Investing in the Next Generation
We believe it’s vital to inspire an interest in technology and innovation among schoolchildren. As the world moves forward ever-faster, we’re preparing students to step up to the challenges ahead.
Investing in Technology and Innovation
To strengthen our pipeline of potential future talent, we have developed a consistent global strategy that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs. We aim to develop and deliver innovative programs for students and educators around the world that nurture technical talent. In doing so, we prioritize programs that leverage skills and help foster long-lasting partnerships and engagement.
Our Support for STEAM Programs
Our Powered by Ford STEAM Academies are designed to attract high-school students and prepare them for life beyond school. Alongside core academic subjects, students participate in engineering, information technology and manufacturing projects, which in many cases are conducted at our own sites.
We also award millions of dollars in scholarships to support social mobility, providing much-needed financial support to assist high-achieving college-bound students with their studies. In 2017 we awarded 100 Blue Oval STEAM Scholarships worth up to $10,000 each, including 29 to female students.
Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) is a signature program of Ford Fund. Ford NGL has teamed up with the Ford STEAM program to support creative high-school students. The Ford STEAM High School Community Challenge empowers students to make a positive difference in their communities. Supported by $50,000 in grants from Ford and with participation from community partners, students use their technical skills to propose solutions that address unmet needs in technology, alternative energy, health and other areas.
In 2018, six teams from across the United States were selected to implement their inventive solutions. The winner, Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Florida, was awarded $20,000 to develop a smartphone application that enables people in disaster areas to communicate with emergency response teams, family and friends.
Runner-up, the Utica Center for Science and Industry in Sterling Heights, Michigan – a Powered by Ford STEAM Academy – will use its $10,000 award to harness centripetal force created from gym equipment through a turbine system to reduce the harmful use of resources to create electricity.
Four other teams, from California, Florida, Georgia and Texas, each received $5,000.
Robots are increasingly an important part of the workplace. Our FIRST® Robotics program challenges teams of students to compete to fund, build and program robots to perform certain tasks, against tight schedules and with limited resources. Ford provides grants and mentor engagement to more than 100 elementary and middle schools and 87 high-school teams, helping them participate in a range of STEAM challenges. In addition, in 2017–18 more than 200 employees volunteered to act as mentors to Ford-sponsored teams.
Women are significantly underrepresented in the tech industry. To help address this, the Ford Research and Innovation Center (RIC) at Palo Alto, California, has partnered with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire, educate and equip young women with the skills needed to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing. RIC is providing opportunities for young women interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Across the United States, Girls Who Code programs combine instruction in robotics, web design and mobile development with mentorship from top engineers at RIC. In this way, students gain exposure to real-life role models and hands-on experience on projects at our Silicon Valley research lab.
Around the world, there is a shortfall of young people entering engineering as a career. To help tackle this, in the U.K. Ford Fund supports Primary Engineer, a nonprofit organization that runs engineering-based courses for primary-school children (aged 7–11) with a £15,000 grant.
In 2017, we launched an exciting STEM initiative for primary-school children in 20 schools across Essex in the southeast of the U.K. We invited 40 teachers from 20 schools to the Ford Dunton Technical Centre to take part in a one-day practical course. The Technical Centre – home to 3,000 highly skilled designers, engineers and support staff – hosted the training day, which supported teachers and support teachers in the practical aspects of delivering a classroom engineering project.
“There is a recognized shortage of engineers across Europe. Children form ideas about suitable careers from a very young age, and so we need to work with schools to ensure that children of a primary age are given the opportunity to learn more about STEM – and are encouraged to consider a future in the area.”
Empowering Through Education
As well as STEAM programs, Ford Fund supports initiatives that empower young people to take control of their future, improve people’s lives, and drive upward social mobility.
Ford College Community Challenge (C3)
The Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) supports young people and encourages social entrepreneurship through the implementation of sustainable community solutions. 2017 saw the 10th anniversary of Ford C3 globally and the third anniversary of its operation in Europe, where it partners with registered charity Enactus.
Operating in 58 universities across the U.K., the international nonprofit organization enables student-led teams to create community development projects. The 2017 Ford U.K. Innovation Challenge, part of Ford C3, offered teams the opportunity to win £25,000 to upscale a community initiative that addressed an unmet social need or problem.
The winner, the University of Sheffield’s “Motion” project, delivers chair-based exercise sessions for the elderly with the intent of increasing physical mobility, reducing social isolation and improving the lives of participants, while also providing employment for vulnerable people.
Ford Driving Dreams Tour
Ford Driving Dreams empowers students to achieve academic success through scholarships, book donations, leadership programs, college preparedness tools, motivational pep rallies, essay contests and career-building activities. To date, its initiatives have delivered more than $3 million in educational resources and over $1.3 million in grants since the program’s launch in 2010. Having reached more than 100,000 students in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Texas, the program has now expanded to support students in Panama and Puerto Rico.