Ford Motor Company announced the award of $200,000 in funding, part of the Bill Ford Better World Challenge (BFBWC), to support two international projects to improve health and sanitation conditions in India and Mexico. The grants are included in Ford Motor Company Fund’s annual community improvement campaign that launched in 2015 as part of the 10th anniversary of the Ford Volunteer Corps.
The challenge is jointly funded by the Ford Fund and Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. The program works to give employee volunteers the opportunity to serve with community activists in places worldwide where Ford does business. It encourages employees and community partners to submit ideas that will solve global problems including issues surrounding mobility, as well as the scarcity of food, water and shelter.
“I am extremely proud of the work our employees are doing to bring about positive change around the world,” said Bill Ford. “Access to basic necessities is not something that can be taken for granted in many communities, and these projects will have an immediate and positive impact on the quality of life for so many people.”
In the rural district of Kancheepuram, India, just outside of Chennai where toilets and private restroom facilities are nonexistent, the $140,000 grant will provide:
100 residential SMART toilets in three villages for a total of 300 toilets. The SMART toilet facility is equipped with lighting, allows for hand washing, and provides twin pits for sustainable use and maintenance
An education program for residents on good hygiene and sanitation practices
“In these rural villages, open defecation is the normal practice,” said Jennifer Leonard, a Ford brake engineer who is managing the project. “This practice proliferates disease, increases child mortality rates, and increases a woman’s chance of being attacked. Our hope with this program is to work to improve health conditions while offering people privacy, dignity and safety.”
Construction in Kancheepuram is slated to begin in January with planned completion in fall 2018. Installation of the toilets will be done using volunteer help from Ford employees at the Chennai plant and will be managed by Gramalaya, a nonprofit in India that works to install SMART toilets. Gramalaya, with 30 years of experience in sanitation programs, is dedicated to helping India become an open defecation-free country.
In Guayacan, Mexico, near Hermosillo, potable water is a rarity. The $60,000 grant will:
– Build the Guayacan Community Center, where filtered water will be available to residents, along with access to bathrooms with toilets and running water for hand washing
– Offer up to 750 families the opportunity to have their own in-home water filtration system for a one-time payment of $5 (U.S.); Ford is working with Aqua Clara International, a Michigan-based nonprofit, to provide the water filters
– Free breakfast every Sunday, offered in conjunction with a local church
– Community center will serve as host site for tutoring and other nonprofit services
“Northwest Mexico has high concentrations of arsenic in the water, so this project will help make sure people have safe drinking water and a place to meet and gather,” said Cindy Turner, a Ford engineer who is leading the project. “Having clean water is a basic necessity in life, so we believe this project will have a dramatic impact on the community.”
Organizers are in the process of securing construction approvals and expect to begin construction this winter.
A third recipient of the 2017 grant program will be announced at a later date.
After only two years, the Bill Ford Better World Challenge has brought about impactful results.
In 2016, the Thailand Clean Water Community project received a $200,000 grant to upgrade clean water access with purification systems, washbasins and restrooms in nine rural schools. Ford volunteers have helped area residents plant hundreds of banana trees, as well as vegetables to be served in school lunches and sold to generate income to expand the schools’ agriculture initiatives.
Eventually, the Thailand program will see the improvement of 13 schools that could benefit up to 3,300 people. Nearly 200 Ford employees have traveled to the Chanthaburi region, which is about 130 miles from Bangkok, to assist with improvement projects.
The Good Turn app project, which received $250,000 in grant funding, was introduced to the Apple Store this summer. The app connects volunteers from Ford Motor Company to community nonprofits in need of transportation help. The brainchild of Cecil Saint Pierre, former Ford conflict mineral analyst, and developed by University of Detroit Mercy, GoodTurn is being used to deliver relief aid from Michigan to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The app continues to undergo updates by the Ford and Detroit Mercy teams, who plan to eventually open the technology to Android users and provide a web interface.