The Role of Ford Fund

Coordinating Our Community Efforts

Helping strengthen the communities in which we operate and understanding their needs have been priorities for us since Henry Ford started the company more than 100 years ago.

Funded by contributions from Ford, we seek to build partnerships and support programs that meet local community needs, align with our business plan, have a measurable impact and, where possible, are replicable in other markets. We prioritize the support and development of organizations that promote diversity and inclusion.

Ford Fund evaluates grants on an annual basis, and grassroots engagement is driven by local teams in each region. To date, Ford Fund has invested more than $1.5 billion in civic organizations to strengthen communities around the world.

Ford Fund – 2016 Contributions1

$ million

Community Life32.8
Driver Safety7.7
  1. Contributions from Ford Fund, and Ford Motor Company contributions administered through Ford Fund.

Community Life

Building Sustainable Communities

We are committed to creating a better world by making people’s lives better in communities around the globe. Our efforts focus on hunger relief, poverty alleviation, and supporting the elderly, disabled, military veterans and other under-represented populations. They also include environmental initiatives, with a particular focus on access to water, hygiene and sanitation.

Our support for more than 700 community groups during 2016 included:

  • Detroit’s tiny homes project, an innovative neighborhood revitalization scheme that provides affordable housing for low-income residents and formerly homeless people

  • Ford Mobile Food Pantries, a fleet of 60 Ford Transit Connect vans helping food banks deliver more meals

  • Transporting more than 673,000 U.S. military veterans to medical appointments in the 207 vehicles we have donated to DAV Transportation Network over the past 20 years

  • Support for refugee integration in Germany

At our Cologne plant in Germany, we provide training and work opportunities for refugees.

Case Study

Refugee Integration Program, Germany

The refugee integration program is a cornerstone of Ford’s community engagement in Germany. There is an active network of over 300 employees supporting refugees in more than 20 community projects. Approximately 2,500 Ford working hours and private time have been invested. Grants to support local community needs and assist refugees in 2016 include $70,000 from Ford Fund.

Partnering with the city of Cologne and nongovernmental organizations, Ford is supporting a range of community projects, including meeting the needs of unattended minors and refugee teenagers with accommodation, mentoring, coaching and activities. Another key focus is supporting refugees of working age with training and work opportunities.

Training and Work Opportunities for Refugees

Our 11-month, full-time “entrance qualification” (EQ) program aims to help refugees enter employment and equip them with the skills, work environment knowledge and language competency to do so.

Ford has offered the EQ program for more than 40 years, which leads to the possibility of an apprenticeship in our plants or with other companies. First developed to provide opportunities to new immigrants to Germany, in 2016, we expanded the program to all refugees who come to the country. The program now enables a further 24 candidates (up to the age of 35, and with the necessary language proficiency and school education) to take part. Within the program, we offer German classes to help participants develop their linguistic confidence and ability.

Eighty percent of candidates who complete the program go on to start an apprenticeship with Ford as the first step in a future career.

Disaster Relief

Ford has a long history of assisting communities devastated by natural disasters around the world. Our support includes grants to nationally recognized aid organizations as well as employee-matching programs and employee volunteerism.

Ford Fund donated $1 million in disaster relief aid last year, including:

  • Supporting emergency efforts in the Caribbean following Hurricane Matthew
  • Providing earthquake recovery assistance in Italy
  • Tornado and flood relief in the American South and Midwest
  • Aid to areas impacted by wildfires in Alberta, Canada, and Tennessee in the United States

As well as grants that help people recover from natural disasters, Ford Fund continues to innovate and expand the reach of our helping hands. In 2016, we introduced the Ford Motor Company Disaster Relief Mobility Challenge, a new U.S.-based initiative that challenges nonprofits to find creative ways to help people in their communities. The Challenge provides grants toward the purchase of a custom-outfitted Ford Transit or truck to serve in missions that rebuild damaged communities.

Ford Fund awarded grants to three U.S.-based nonprofits actively engaged in disaster relief work:

  • Toolbank will stock a Transit with free-to-use tools for devastated communities
  • Team Rubicon will transport veterans as disaster response volunteers
  • Catholic Charities USA will use a Ford F-450 box truck to tow washers and dryers to communities in need

  Read more about the Ford Volunteer Corps

Centralizing Community and Cultural Services

The idea behind Ford’s Resource and Engagement Centers is to provide an innovative model for neighborhood involvement, using a flexible approach that centralizes community services, and drawing on expertise and support from nonprofit partners and Ford volunteers. Since opening our first center in southwest Detroit in 2013, more than 80,000 local residents have been assisted through social and cultural services, ranging from providing 1.5 million pounds of food to helping more than 6,000 people complete their tax returns. The center returns $3 to the community for every $1 invested. Given this success, Ford Fund – in cooperation with Detroit Public Schools Foundation and Detroit Public Schools – is opening a second center in the city. This will bring $5 million in services to thousands of students and residents on the city’s east side.

In May 2016, we announced the creation of a new Resource and Engagement Center in South Africa, located on the grounds of our Silverton plant outside Pretoria.

The new Ford Resource and Engagement Center will be located near Ford’s Silverton assembly plant outside of Pretoria, South Africa.

Case Study

Ford Resource and Engagement Center, South Africa

Ford’s new Resource and Engagement Center in South Africa is part of a five-year, $4 million investment across the African continent to support the company’s growth and its commitment to making people’s lives better. The center will provide training and help approximately 200 people in South Africa to find a job or start their own small business – through skills development, training programs, grants and educational scholarships. In collaboration with nonprofit Future Families, the center will also offer services for families and orphans affected by HIV and AIDS.

This marks the first international expansion of the highly successful project Ford Fund launched in Detroit, to bring nonprofit community services together in a collaborative environment. Ford will invest more than R2 million annually in job training through the new center in South Africa.

Ford Fund has a proud tradition of strengthening the communities that are home to our employees, dealers, suppliers and customers. As our company expands throughout the African continent, we are bringing our innovative community investment programs to new regions to create a better world.”

Jim Vella,President, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

  Read about other social investment projects in our Middle East & Africa region


Education is the engine that drives individual and community prosperity, and we invest in innovative, sustainable education programs that connect students with classroom learning and real-world applications. Ford Fund supports programs that empower young people to take control of their future, help make people’s lives better in their communities and drive social mobility upward for all.

Ford Fund supports a number of signature education initiatives:

Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL)

Our nationally recognized program transforms high schools with career-themed academies focused on engineering, manufacturing, design and health care. Active in 36 U.S. communities, Ford NGL has connected more than 200,000 students with professionals working in their chosen field, giving them an opportunity to gain real-world experience and learn by doing.

Ford College Community Challenge (C3)

In this global initiative, teams of college students in nine countries propose innovative projects, based on the theme of building a sustainable community, that address a pressing local need. Winning teams receive funding from Ford Fund to implement their projects. The “challenge” concept has resulted in additional branches, including Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge and Ford STEM Community Challenge.

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.

Ford Blue Oval Scholarships

In an effort to drive social mobility, Ford has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships, providing high-achieving students with much-needed financial support for their college studies.

  Read more about how we invest in technology and innovation

Powered by Ford STEAM Academies

Focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), the academies help prepare students for the high-tech jobs of the future.

Ford STEAM Lab

Our online curriculum empowers schools to foster creativity and innovation by incorporating “design thinking.” These culminate in “hackathons,” where students develop apps that address local issues and needs.

  Read more about our STEAM activities

Driver Safety

The industry-leading centerpiece of our commitment, Ford Driving Skills for Life, is a free, interactive program focused on addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. The award-winning initiative uses state-of-the-art equipment to teach new drivers essential skills in four key areas: vehicle handling, speed management and space management, hazard recognition and distracted driving.

  Read more about safer driving

Global Outreach

Operation Better World

Ford Fund’s Operation Better World is a coordinated, grassroots initiative designed to develop transformational programs focused on mobility, education and sustainable communities. Ford Fund awarded 190 grants worth $9.25 million in 2016.

In collaboration with the nonprofit Global Giving Foundation, innovative programs in 49 markets utilize the expertise of local Ford teams and community leaders to make a world of difference:

  • China

    The Level Up! initiative builds the organizational capacity of grassroots environmental groups in China through project mentoring, workshops for environmental leaders and entrepreneurs, capacity-building training and development, and support networks.

  • Germany

    Ford Fund supports education workshops at the Children’s University in Cologne, where more than 4,000 young people participated in primarily STEM-related learning.

  • India

    Our Happy Schools program helps bridge gaps in education by improving infrastructure in classrooms, playgrounds and sanitation facilities, and incorporating “learning by doing” in school curricula. Through entrepreneurial workshops in tailoring, provided in partnership with nonprofit Hand in Hand, women are empowered to start their own micro-enterprises.

  • Morocco

    The Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy runs workshops for future business leaders, providing the skills and tools they need to launch and grow new ventures. The program has been extended to Effat University, a university for women in Saudi Arabia.

  • South Africa

    We’re expanding our Blue Village initiative, named by local residents after the shipping containers now being converted into new homes.

  • Venezuela

    Leading Your Future is an award-winning community-based automotive training program for disadvantaged youth.

  • West Africa

    Ford has worked with Riders for Health, an international nonprofit organization, whose vehicles bring medical professionals and supplies to remote areas in The Gambia and Nigeria.

Participants on our Leading Your Future program, which offers training to disadvantaged youth in Venezuela.

Case Study

Training Disadvantaged Youth in Venezuela

Each year, the Leading Your Future program provides four months of comprehensive automotive technical training to 60 unemployed, educationally disadvantaged young Venezuelans aged between 19 and 25. The program is endorsed by the prestigious University of Carobabo and is supported by an active volunteer group of 70 Ford employees. Sixteen of the Ford employees have been certified by the university as trainers, and the lessons provided by the Ford team have become part of the curriculum endorsed by the university.

Over the two years since the program began, 56 at-risk youth participants received an Automotive Training Diploma endorsed by the university and 32 new participants are currently enrolled in the program.

The Ford Venezuela team has received the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Award in recognition of employees’ vital role in the Leading Your Future program.