Ford Driving Dreams: Inspiring Students to Succeed

Signature program encourages youth to graduate on time and pursue higher education

Since 2012, Ford Driving Dreams has equipped more than 200,000 students across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Latin America with scholarships and resources — both inside and outside the classroom — to help fuel academic success.

Cassandra Rivera, a 2019 Ford Driving Dreams Scholar and Texas A&M student, has a dream of becoming a pilot and hopes to join the United States Air Force. She and her mother, Melinda Rivera, are grateful for the Ford Fund's support in making that happen.

Marvin Rojas Javier, another Ford Driving Dreams scholarship recipient, plans to have a double major in international business and marketing at the University of Oklahoma. Joyfully recalling his amazement when he got the news of his award, Marvin said, "It's so much more than just the money, it's everything you get from it — it's the events, the networking later."

Ford Driving Dreams is designed to support students of all ages. For elementary school students, Ford Driving Dreams delivers new books and literacy initiatives to inspire children's love of reading through a partnership with national nonprofit First Book.

For middle and high school students, the program provides scholarship and entrepreneurship funding, leadership and networking opportunities, career-building activities, college preparedness tools and motivational events – all designed to build confidence and inspire students to graduate on time and pursue higher education.

Erick Castrejon at LULAC Convention podium, 2019
Erick Castrejon

Another component of Ford Driving Dreams is a community grant program run in partnership with LULAC — the League of United Latin American Citizens. Each year 10 LULAC councils are awarded grants to implement education programs designed to help reduce dropout rates of Hispanic high school students in their local communities. Since 2010, Ford Fund has invested more than $1.5 million in community grants that have helped nearly 2,000 students and 66 LULAC councils across the country.

"For the past three years, I've been part of a college readiness program in Waukegan, Illinois, called Waukegan to College, and am so thankful for this opportunity," Erick Castrejon, a Ford Driving Dreams grant program participant, said. "I've learned a lot about how important it is to help those in need. Had it not been for Waukegan to College, Ford Fund and LULAC encouraging me to volunteer as a part of this program, I don't think I would have truly understood what it means to impact someone else."

North Texas scholar and family taking selfie
Texas scholar family from 2018 Ford Driving Dreams.

Castrejon's dream is to create his own "makerspace" in Waukegan after college. This makerspace would be a building dedicated to engineering where children work together, and with adults, create new engineering solutions to problems. Castrejon's makerspace also would serve to encourage young people to explore STEM fields.

These are the types of benefits that Ford Driving Dreams provides: real connections and person-to-person exchanges that make you feel more connected to your community.

From early reading initiatives to motivational rallies and beyond, Ford Driving Dreams students experience an academic journey that is enhanced and enriched. They are told from an early age that they matter, that help is there, that they can do anything and that their future is full of possibilities.