The Bill Ford Better World Challenge is a global grant program designed to inspire employees to brainstorm ideas for transforming daily life and solving problems in communities worldwide where Ford does business.
Jointly funded by Bill Ford and Ford Fund, the program awards annual grants to employee-led projects that provide solutions to mobility challenges, meet basic needs such as food and shelter, or address water-related issues including access, hygiene and sanitation.
Projects are created, coordinated and led by Ford employees in partnership with local nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations, giving employees a rare opportunity to serve with community activists and make a deep, lasting impact on the quality of life for people and families where they live and work.
Launched as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Ford Volunteer Corps, the Bill Ford Better World Challenge has awarded a total of $1.4 million in grants to support seven transformational projects spanning Mexico, India, Thailand, the United States and South Africa.
A water project in drought-stricken South Africa involves equipping a Ford Ranger with a mobile air-to-water filtration system that pulls moisture from the air to produce up to 156 gallons of drinking water per day. A second stand-alone system with a 1,300-gallon storage tank will be installed at a community center to provide water to people severely impacted by drought. This project, supported by Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering team, is being implemented with WorldVision South Africa.
The Ford MoVe/Community Vending project will place vending machines around the city of Detroit to provide first-aid and hygiene products, diapers, clothing and additional items for the homeless and other people in need.
Thailand Clean Water Community project upgraded water access with purification systems, washbasins and restrooms in nine rural schools. Nearly 200 Ford volunteers have helped residents plant hundreds of banana trees and vegetables for school lunches. Eventually, 13 schools and up to 3,300 people could benefit from the improvements.
Ford Mobile Farm is a hydroponic container garden designed to provide Detroit-area residents with fresh produce year-round. Housed at Cass Community Social Services, the project can produce 52 harvests annually and includes an F-150 pickup with a garden in its bed to visit local schools, offering hands-on lessons about farming to students.
SMART toilet facilities in rural Kancheepuram, India, feature 300 SMART toilets, handwashing and lighting for people living in three villages – areas where private restrooms did not exist before the Ford grant and the work of Ford volunteers.
Uber-like GoodTurn app connects Ford volunteers to nonprofits needing transportation. Developed by University of Detroit Mercy, GoodTurn has helped deliver hurricane relief aid to the southeastern United States. Discussions are under way with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan to use the app to distribute materials to the group’s affiliates around the state.
Safe drinking water was rare in Guayacan, Mexico, until a Ford grant helped build a community center where residents can get filtered water and access to bathrooms.
To learn about additional ways Ford Fund supports employee volunteering, click here.