Michigan Technological University is one of five universities nationwide selected to receive a 2009 Ford College Community Challenge grant. The $50,000 grant will enable Michigan Tech undergraduates and community partners to continue and expand a winterization project for low-income elderly residents of the community.
Ford C3 is a national initiative of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. The initiative challenged students from within Ford’s national network of higher education partners to develop innovative programs that create sustainable change in their communities.
"How gratifying it is for the Ford Motor Company Fund to continue its long relationship with Michigan Tech through this grant," said Shea McGrew, vice president for advancement at Michigan Tech. "Our proposal rose to the top in a highly competitive process. The grant enables us to address the need of our elderly citizens for affordable energy solutions. The partnership demonstrates the Ford Fund’s recognition of our exceptional student talent and the alignment of its priority of building sustainable communities with our focus in that area."
The Michigan Tech project, called Generations of Energy, developed when New Power Tour, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies, launched a winterization effort last fall. They sought help from a student team at Michigan Tech, the Efficiency Through Engineering and Construction (ETEC) Enterprise. Project partners at Michigan Tech and in the community now include the University’s Youth Programs; New Power Tour, Inc.; Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly; Martineau & Morris Contracting; ThermalAnalytics, Inc.; and newly established High School Enterprise teams.
The project harnesses the energy, enthusiasm and talents of community residents from multiple generations: elderly residents who are often isolated and living on severely limited incomes, college students who are not always connected to the world beyond campus and at-risk high school students who are already confronting challenges and obstacles that can make college or post-secondary education seem out of reach. It aims to strengthen the foundations of a sustainable community, defined as one where residents are responsive to needs of those less fortunate and understand that their community is no stronger than the most vulnerable among them.
"I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be part of the Generations of Energy project, said Mike Powers, a senior in construction management at Michigan Tech and a member of ETEC. "Not only is this for a good cause, but it’s also helping to inform people of the importance of sustainability and the savings it can bring," added Powers, assistant project manager.
Other winning projects include an innovative and first-ever bike share program, using information technology to increase energy efficiency within a community’s residential area, and assisting a local non-profit organization to significantly expand its operations. In addition to Michigan Tech, the grants will go to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan State University, the University of Illinois and Georgia Tech.
"Education is a top priority for Ford Motor Company Fund," said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "We are pleased to be able to support the millennial spirit of innovation in these students, whose projects help address critical needs within their communities."
Through the Ford C3 program, which was launched in 2008, Ford reached out to its national network of Ford Advanced Education Partnership (FAEP) colleges and universities and invited them to compete in the Ford College Community Challenge. Participating schools worked with their local communities to put together proposals that utilized the school's resources and capacity to address a social need or problem in the local community. Proposals had to address the theme of Ford C3 – Building Sustainable Communities – in some unique and innovative way. Unlike many traditional college grant programs, Ford C3 requires colleges to create project proposals that have significant student input, involvement, and leadership from beginning to end. As a result, winning proposals have a distinctive student perspective on what it means to have a sustainable community.
Ford Fund grants are designed to launch and sustain the projects through the first year of implementation. The projects then will continue to be supported by university and local resources.
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services is a community relations and philanthropic non-profit funded by Ford Motor Company. Celebrating its 60 th anniversary in 2009, Ford Fund supports initiatives and institutions that foster and promote innovation in education, greater automotive safety and American heritage and diversity. National programs include Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS), which provides 21 st century skills-based curriculum to more than 40,000 high school students; and Ford Driving Skills for Life, which has taught safe driving skills to more than 337,000 young drivers. In addition, the Ford Volunteer Corps, established in 2005, enlists the help of thousands of Ford employees and retirees who volunteer their time to continue Ford’s legacy of community service worldwide. For more information about programs made possibly by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, please visit www.community.ford.com or www.volunteer.ford.com.