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DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 22, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted traditional school life, but Ford Motor Company wants to make sure children keep reading and learning. As champion of a Ford Motor Company Fund initiative aimed at increasing literacy among young people, Elena Ford is announcing a $200,000 investment that will provide 30,000 books and other critically needed school supplies for 1,500 educators and their students hard hit by COVID-19 in Dallas, Houston and Phoenix.
The effort is part of a collaboration between Ford Fund – the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company – and nonprofit First Book that is designed to help address literacy shortfalls among children in underserved communities and provide opportunities for students to learn about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) disciplines and potential careers. By the end of this year, Ford Fund will have invested more than $600,000 and delivered more than 130,000 books to students in Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Puerto Rico and San Antonio since the initiative began in 2015.
“We’re showing the kids that no matter where you learn – school or home – books can inspire dreams and spark interest in subjects that could be the beginning of an exciting career,” said Elena Ford, chief customer experience officer, Ford Motor Company. “We want kids to understand that reading is fun and rewarding, and will allow them to take advantage of educational opportunities that can help them achieve personal success.”
To kick off the initiative, Elena Ford is leading a live virtual reading party for more than 10,000 elementary students from 44 Ford dealer-nominated and other Title 1 schools across the First Book network in the Dallas, Houston and Phoenix metropolitan areas. Elena Ford will be joined by award-winning children’s author Andrea Beaty, who will read her story, “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” a New York Times bestseller about a young girl with a passion for inventing.
After the virtual event, educators from participating schools will receive an electronic gift card to purchase books, school supplies and safety items such as hand sanitizer and wipes. Teachers will be able to place custom orders to meet their specific classroom needs as they reinvent the experience for their students during COVID-19.
Later this year, participating Ford dealers will activate a fleet of vehicles that will serve as Ford mobile libraries to deliver the books and supplies to educators and students.
Ford Fund believes these efforts to close the literacy gap and address community educational issues are another step forward in providing equal access to learning opportunities for everyone. Ford Fund invests more than $13 million each year to support education initiatives that help build stronger communities and make people’s lives better.
In addition, Ford Motor Company and Ford Fund are delivering more than 100 million face masks to students and families with limited access to personal protective equipment in at-risk communities across the United States. Ford Fund has contributed nearly $3 million to assist nonprofits and community organizations helping people manage challenges related to COVID-19, including more than $1.1 million raised by employees and others through its COVID-19 Donation Match program.
To learn more about Ford Fund’s response to COVID-19, visit www.fordfund.org/covid19.