Launched in: 2008
Application Timing: February - April
Ford Fund invites students to develop and submit ideas for innovative projects that address community needs—ranging from safety to workforce development to access to mobility, and more. Each year, up to 10 proposals are selected to receive a $25,000 grant to implement their project, allowing students to take an active role in making people’s lives better and helping their community become a more sustainable place to work and live.
2020 Ford College Community Challenge Winning Projects
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Students will improve diversity within STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) by mentoring children in underserved communities each academic semester. The goal is to initially reach 200 students and expand as the program continues. Led by Ohio State’s Association of Computing Machinery Women's student chapter (ACM-W), members will work with local public schools and College Mentors for Kids to distribute computer science starter kits to upper elementary and early middle school aged children. The kits will teach the basics of programming logic and give students the opportunity to channel their imagination into a coding project. The program also incorporates a one-on-one mentoring program for participating students. Due to COVID-19, this program will be conducted virtually for the foreseeable future.
Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
In Watauga County, where Appalachian State University is located, most residents do not have access to a recycling program and many reusable products make their way to landfills in the area. The goal of project C6 Appalachian, is to eliminate the myth of single-use plastic while addressing prevalent social issues within their community. Project leads have partnered with the Appalachian State University Sustainable Energy Society to manufacture plastic keychains and other products to be as efficient and sustainable to their customers. The keychains were also made with COVID-19 in mind and allow users to open doors and press buttons without touching surfaces. The next item they hope to manufacture with recycled plastic is 20,000 safety whistles for young women on campus.
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa.
The Renewable Energy Scholars student group of Bucknell University’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment are planning to build four public solar powered charging stations in the towns of Mount Carmel and Shamokin, Pa. Bucknell students and the Coal Region Field Station will work with staff, faculty and community partners to design, build, and implement solar powered charging stations for personal devices. The project involves working closely with community stakeholders such as a local library, local government, faith-based organizations and public schools. A key driver of this program in addition to improving public spaces is enhancing workforce development in the region. High school vocational students will partner with college students to help design and implement the stations. Being exposed to these technologies and design can give high school students additional skills and inspiration to consider developing talents in the emerging green technology field of the future.
University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.
Through 3D Mobility Mapping, the student team at UM-Dearborn will build, maintain and share an innovative mapping platform (ArcGIS™ Hub) to help the City of Dearborn solve prioritized mobility issues such as transportation to employment opportunities and healthcare. The platform will promote “equitable mobility” and has the potential to reduce the geographic gap that inhibits residents from reaching services. Originally formed through the Ford Community Corps program, and in collaboration with the City of Dearborn and Healthy Dearborn, funding from the 2020 Ford College Community Challenge will help maintain the existing project and grow capacity to provide a valuable resource to the city, nonprofit organizations and the general public.
Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.
Students at Michigan Tech along with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) will create a Health Resource Hub. The Hub will be a publicly available, online source that can connect individuals, health care practitioners, caregivers and social service organizations to community resources to improve health and wellbeing in the region. This project serves an unmet need for the five county region served by WUPHD, an exclusively rural population of approximately 67,700. The Hub will also include community resources that support social determinants of health, helping our more vulnerable populations find services to address factors that adversely affect health, such as non-emergent medical transportation services or domestic violence services. Given the remote, rural population this project serves, the mobile platform will increase the reach of the hub for those with limited access to high-speed internet or computers.
Wayne State University, Detroit
Blessing Box Global is a nonprofit student organization at Wayne State University with a mission to ensure access to food and hygiene products for Detroit’s unreached homeless and low-income population through a system of Blessing Boxes. Blessing Boxes are locker-sized, mini outdoor pantries that provide 24/7 stigma-free access to non-perishable food items and hygiene products. With grant funding from the challenge, students will install 18 new Blessing Boxes and additional handwashing stations. The team estimates the new boxes will provide daily sanitation for 200 individuals and 2,160 will receive food on a monthly basis.
University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Fla.
The “Fresh & Local” project intends to retro-fit a defunct greenhouse structure and turn it into an efficient and productive hydroponic growing system that produces fresh and nutritious food all year round. The model of operation will be slightly different from a traditional community farm in that the food will be grown indoors, without soil, 12 months a year. To help sustain the project, 70% of production will be sold through a youth driven social enterprise model and the other 30% will be distributed through a local charity. The team hopes to teach 30 students about agriculture and provide the community with up to 150 pounds of fresh vegetables on a monthly basis through sales and distribution at two or more locations within St. Petersburg.