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Bill Ford Better World Challenge Awards $450,000 for Projects Generating Clean Water, Aiding the Homeless

Bill Ford Better World Challenge Awards $450,000 for Projects Generating Clean Water, Aiding the Homeless 

  • Bill Ford Better World Challenge is awarding a total of $450,000 to two transformational Ford volunteer projects that will benefit people in South Africa and the United States
  • A water project in drought-stricken South Africa will receive $200,000, and a mobile vending system to supply Detroit’s homeless with first aid and other items will receive $250,000
  • Bill Ford Better World Challenge and Ford’s Thirty Under 30 were launched in 2015 and have since developed synergies that enhance Ford Fund’s work to build stronger communities

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 19, 2018 – Ford Motor Company Fund is today announcing $450,000 in grants to the 2018 winners of the Bill Ford Better World Challenge. A project in South Africa has been awarded $200,000 and another in the United States will receive $250,000 to advance their transformational work to strengthen communities and make people’s lives better.

Ford employees submitted 42 grant proposals for Ford Volunteer Corps projects in partnership with nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations around the world. These two projects have been awarded funding to take their innovative ideas to the next level:

  • Mobile Air-to-Water Filtration System – Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa: A Ford Ranger will be used as a water generation system to provide potable water to communities severely impacted by drought. The system pulls moisture from the air and produces 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. In addition, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering pitched in $130,000 to further advance the project, which is being implemented with WorldVision South Africa.
  • Ford MoVe/Community Vending – Detroit, Michigan, United States: A Ford Transit will be customized to service and supply vending machines filled with first aid and hygiene products, diapers, clothing and other items for people in the Detroit Homeless Network. The vending machines will be located around the city and available 24 hours a day to meet people’s immediate needs. The Transit will be able to respond with critical supplies when necessary. The program is being implemented with The Salvation Army.

The challenge is jointly funded by Bill Ford and Ford Fund – the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. The program gives employee volunteers a unique opportunity to serve with community activists. In addition, they are able to take a deep dive into serious concerns, such as food, water, shelter and mobility, and craft sustainable solutions that can potentially improve the quality of life for people in need worldwide.

Now in its third year, the program has awarded a total of $1.4 million in grants to support seven transformational projects spanning Mexico, India, Thailand, United States and now, South Africa. Previous Bill Ford Better World Challenge grant recipients include:

  • Hygiene facilities in rural Kancheepuram, India, feature 300 SMART toilets, handwashing basins 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.
  • Safe drinking water was rare in Guayacán, Mexico, until a Ford grant helped build a community center where more than 200 families get filtered water and access to bathrooms each month. An additional 300 families received water filters for use in their homes.
  • 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. It includes a Ford F-150 pickup with a garden in its bed that travels to local schools to offer hands-on lessons about farming to students.
  • 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.
  • An 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 U.S. Discussions are underway with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan to use the app to distribute materials to Habitat affiliates throughout Michigan.

“Most of the winning projects were developed by Ford’s Thirty Under 30 graduates who have taken their training in philanthropic leadership into the community to engage people and make strong connections with our nonprofit partners,” said Rene Palileo, manager, Ford Fund. “We’re not surprised these programs have resulted in strong, well-crafted solutions that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

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About Ford Motor Company Fund

Ford Motor Company Fund is the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. Established in 1949, Ford Fund invests in transformational programs that advance innovation, empower people, promote social mobility and improve community prosperity. Ford Fund works with local and global partners to create opportunities in education, encourage safe driving, enlist employee volunteers and enrich community life. For more information, visit, or join us on Facebook @FordFund and Twitter @FordFund.