- Bill Ford Better World Challenge, a new global grant program, will award up to $500,000 a year to employee-led Ford Volunteer Corps projects
- Ford is also launching an innovative new leadership course for younger employees to learn civic engagement skills while sharing their own insights with nonprofits
- New survey finds young adults value volunteering more than the rest of the population, and prefer to support charities with time instead of money
Ford and Executive Chairman Bill Ford are launching the Bill Ford Better World Challenge, a global grant program that will award up to $500,000 to community service projects identified by company employees. The program, jointly funded by the company and Bill Ford, will work in tandem with Ford Volunteer Corps – Ford’s international network of 30,000 volunteers that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Ford is also starting Thirty Under 30, in which 30 U.S. employees under the age of 30 will be selected for a yearlong course to learn civic engagement and leadership skills with a focus on philanthropy and volunteerism. The program will also pair employees with nonprofits so both Ford and charitable organizations can learn from younger generations.
“Community service is one of the hallmarks of our company and the Ford family,” said Bill Ford. “As we celebrate the incredible achievements of the Ford Volunteer Corps, we are looking to the future with innovative programs that further harness the power of our volunteers and build the next generation of community leaders.”
The Ford Volunteer Corps was launched by Bill Ford in 2005 in response to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Assisting in post-tsunami rebuilding efforts was among the Corps’ first work, as employees from Ford Thailand took a 14-hour bus ride to spend a week at a time in sweltering conditions mixing concrete, making roof tiles, digging foundations, building walls and helping villagers start to get their lives back.
That outreach and sense of community has grown into a highly coordinated global network in which each year 30,000 volunteers work on 1,600 projects across six continents. Whether helping children read, fighting hunger or delivering clean water, thousands of Ford volunteers have worked on 9,000 projects in more than 40 countries, contributing more than 1 million hours of community service.
To expand on that, the Bill Ford Better World Challenge aims to give employee volunteers the opportunity to work with local groups where Ford does business to apply for community service project funding under the new grant program. The projects will focus on three categories that create sustainable solutions to community needs – mobility; basic needs such as food and shelter; and water-related issues including access, sanitation and hygiene. Funding is expected to be awarded by the middle of 2016.
Meantime, the Ford Volunteer Corps’ signature Global Week of Caring is being expanded from one week in September to the entire month. Ford Global Caring Month will open more opportunities for Ford employees to volunteer and broaden the company’s global focus on community service.
Nearly 20,000 volunteers are expected to work on 360 projects around the world – from cleaning up beaches in Angola to renovating a daycare for children with disabilities in the United Kingdom. In the United States, more than 2,300 Ford employees will participate in more than 160 volunteer projects across nine states throughout the month, including a Ford Accelerated Action Day Sept. 11.
The new Thirty Under 30 program, which gets under way next year, taps into a growing interest among younger employees to become involved in their communities beyond sending money to charitable organizations. The program will start as a U.S. pilot project.
“I often say that the work I do is for my children and grandchildren,” said Bill Ford. “I believe we must help younger generations become careful stewards of the world they are inheriting.”
A new Nielsen survey among 1,000 U.S. respondents over the age of 18 found 63 percent of the Millennials in the group felt community volunteering was important, compared to 56 percent among the rest of the respondents. More than half of the Millennials said they would volunteer for charity instead of giving money, versus 17 percent who said they would prefer to only send money. Millennials are typically defined as people born from 1982 to 2004.
“Younger generations have shown they see community building as part of their career goals,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “With Thirty Under 30, we are not only helping our younger employees work with nonprofits, we will learn from them how to design corporate philanthropy in the future.”