Ford Fund Welcomes New Class of Thirty Under 30, Launches Social Innovation Studio

Bill Ford Congratulates Young Philanthropists Who will Focus on Shelter and Homelessness

Ford’s Thirty Under 30 program has taken root within the company and its growing success is sprouting innovative ideas to benefit people and communities. The third class of the philanthropic leadership program is now seated and looking forward to tackling the difficult issue of homelessness. These younger Ford employees from the United States and – for the first time – Canada will team up with nonprofits to work on potential solutions that could have a life-changing impact on people seeking shelter for themselves and their families.

Thirty Under 30 is a yearlong course that matches nonprofits with Ford Fellows who are dedicated to community service. The employees take time away from their jobs as Ford engineers, marketing, finance and purchasing professionals to gain a better understanding of how nonprofits address major community issues by working collaboratively, while also providing a different perspective on how those nonprofits might engage with the next generation of donors and volunteers. Executive Chairman Bill Ford welcomed the program’s newest participants, who were selected from nearly 300 applications.

“This is a time of great change for the company and it’s incredibly exciting,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “The connections you will make, with the nonprofits and each other, are one of the most interesting parts of the program.  It may spark something in you that has nothing to do with the program, but moves you to give back to the community.”

The 2018 Thirty Under 30 Fellows are: Ishmael Amegashie, Molli Andor, Shelby Avery, Alexander Breg, Leah Cordero, Patrick Davis, Lani Duffy, Dominic Gelfuso, Katelyn Hamaker, Muneeb Hameed, Eric Hum, Sergio Juarez, Nevi Kaja, Audrey Lajoie, Steven Lapointe, Christiana Lumaj, Samantha Martens, Devin McParlane, Joseph Petit-Homme, Jackson Pilutti, Sophia Polansky, Westin Pulizzi, Benjamin Schoenleber, Dhivya Srinivasan, Christopher Taylor, Daria Urakova, Aparna Velampudi, Robert Voisin, Brendan Webb, Kevin Zurek. Learn more about the new class by watching their videos here.

The Fellows will be working on shelter and affordable housing to combat homelessness in southeast Michigan and Ontario with the following nonprofits:

•  Cass Community Social Services (Tiny Homes)
•  FirstStep (Shelter)
•  Habitat for Humanity Macomb County (Affordable housing)
•  Ruth Ellis Center (Shelter)
•  SOS (South Oakland Shelter)
•  United Way Halton & Hamilton – Canada (New Housing Initiatives)

The Ford employees will focus on philanthropy and volunteerism as they study civic engagement and leadership skills. The Fellows will be introduced to design thinking, an increasingly popular process with mindsets, tools and methods used to define and address complex problems. The design thinking curriculum was developed through a partnership with Henry Ford Learning Institute, which will also run the newly launched Ford Social Innovation Studio. The studio is the next step forward to deepen the social impact of the Ford Volunteer Corps and create a cohesive link between Ford employees and their high-impact community service. The studio will provide customized, action-oriented assistance to elevate select projects from prototype to activation and social impact.

Candidates for the innovation studio will be the most promising projects conceived by Ford’s Thirty Under 30 philanthropists, grant winners in the Bill Ford Better World Challenge or nonprofits. The work will be centered on providing people with access to food, clean water, shelter, mobility and other essentials to improve the quality of life. The studio’s goal is to boost each project’s chances for success, increase its impact, and further community prosperity. 

“We are moving beyond traditional grants to make a more significant difference in helping people raise their economic status and quality of life,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund. “The studio is another way we are focusing on investments that drive social impact and transformational change in the communities we serve.”

Ford’s Thirty Under 30 Class of 2017 completed a deep dive into hunger and food insecurity issues. The Thirty Under 30 fellows presented their research, ideas and potential solutions to some 200 Ford executives and employees, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford, President and CEO Jim Hackett and Ford Fund President Jim Vella.

“Ford’s Thirty Under 30 is proving to be a rewarding and inspiring program for the employees and nonprofits,” said Rene Palileo, manager, Ford Thirty Under 30. “They are carving out new avenues to connect people with solutions that will help move their lives forward and lift community prosperity.”

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Projects resulting from last year’s Thirty Under 30

Ford Mobile Farm -  Ford Fellows developed an innovative hydroponic nutrition delivery system, in essence a mobile farm in a shipping container that will provide fresh food for Detroit residents. The project also includes an F-Series truck for making deliveries and providing educational outreach in the community. The project was awarded a Bill Ford Better World Challenge grant and is being implemented at Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.

Fish and Loaves Community Food Pantry - Another team of Thirty Under 30 introduced barcoding and other modern business technologies to streamline inventory management and client operations at the pantry, which was awarded a Ford Fund grant to implement improvements.

Crossroads of Michigan - Fellows created a unique approach to building brand identity for the organization, while increasing the impact on the community.

Gleaners Community Food Bank - The Fellows framed an organization and tracking method to define real-time community hunger relief needs.

Pope Francis Center - A team of the Ford Thirty Under 30 introduced an awareness and education system to expand and improve how the organization communicates its mission.

Yad Ezra - The Fellows established an inventory and logistical support system to improve food delivery and client access.

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