Ford and Hispanic Federation Join Forces to Empower the Central Florida Community and Launch the Ford Driving Dreams Tour; Announced $400K in New Initiatives

  • Through the start of the Central Florida Empowerment Initiative, families and students received needed resources and school supplies.
  • Ford Fund launched the Ford Driving Dreams Tour and announced $100,000 in scholarships for high school seniors to pursue higher education

Orlando, Oct. 25, 2018 – Ford and the Hispanic Federation launched two programs in Orlando, Fl., this week through collaborative efforts to help uplift the growing Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Ford and Hispanic Federation introduced the new Central Florida Empowerment Initiative, which will provide support services to the local community. The expanded collaboration between Ford and Hispanic Federation continued on Thursday, Oct. 25, with the start of the first Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Orlando. The new initiative and Ford Driving Dreams result in a $400,000 investment for Ford in support of the Latino community in Central Florida.

The week began with a family-friendly community event on Oct. 23 to announce the Central Florida Empowerment Initiative, which included a book fair, photo booth station and offered school supplies and food baskets to participating families. That same day, Ford presented two new vehicles, a cargo van and passenger van, to the Hispanic Federation. The Ford vans will be used by the nonprofit to transport thousands of individuals, many of whom do not own any vehicles necessary to find work, find housing, or address their health needs. After the presentation, representatives from both Ford and Hispanic Federation drove the new vans to Riverside Elementary School to deliver school supply donations to students and faculty.

This initiative was made possible through the expansion and strengthening of the collaboration between Ford and Hispanic Federation and serves as a continuation of the help given to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The focus of the initiative is to provide assistance in six key areas: transportation, employment, health care, housing, hunger relief, and social service.

On Oct. 25, the Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Orlando began with a motivational pep rally with more than 300 students at the Acacia Florida Puerto Rican Center and announced the “What Drives your Dream?” essay contest for a chance to win 50 scholarships. The contest asks graduating high school seniors from the four participating schools to submit an essay describing what drives their dream and how it will positively impact others in their community. The contest will award a total of $100,000 in scholarships and provide 50 essay contest winners with $2,000 each. Empowerment speaker Ronni Rodriguez from NASA shared his own inspiring story and invited two of his team members to join him on stage for a Q&A to encourage students at the rally to follow their dreams and continue their education. The rally for students also included career and financial literacy training, an Instagram contest, and arts and cultural activities with traditional dances and music from Latin American and the Caribbean.

These efforts in partnership with the Hispanic Federation are part of a long-term investment to expand the Ford Driving Dreams program to Kissimmeee and Orlando high schools and to inspire and motivate youth from underrepresented households to dream big. The top 50 essays will be selected and scholarships will be awarded in the Spring of 2019 during a Ford Driving Dreams celebration. The essay contest reinforces the importance of education and is intended to serve as a tool for college readiness by connecting a student’s high school writing assignment to the essays required for college applications.

“We are truly excited to launch the Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Orlando today to announce $100,000 in scholarships to benefit high school students,” said Joe Ávila, Manager, Community Development, U.S. & Latin America, Ford Motor Company Fund. “And, we remain committed to joining forces with critical partners on the ground like the Hispanic Federation – those who have the pulse of the community and share our vision of helping more students to dare to dream big, graduate on time, and attend college,” continued Ávila.

Ford Fund also awarded $14,000 in grants to the four participating high schools, including Colonial High School and University High School in Orlando, as well as Osceola High School and Avant Garde Academy of Osceola in Kissimmee. The funds will support student programs that promote leadership development, career preparedness, and college enrollment.

The Ford Driving Dreams Tour was designed by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, to help youth graduate on time and pursue higher education. Launched in 2012, Ford Driving Dreams has equipped more than 200,000 students across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Latin America with tools to help fuel their academic and career journeys. Ford Driving Dreams initiatives, including the Tour, have delivered more than $10 million in educational resources such as scholarships, college preparedness, tutoring programs, parental engagement, and motivational activities. For more information, visit Follow us @fordfund on Twitter and @FordDrivingDreams on Instagram and Facebook, and use #forddrivingdreams to be part of the conversation.