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DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 23, 2020 – Too often, underrepresented students simply don’t receive the resources, guidance and level of support needed to aide their pursuit of a successful STEM career. Working in concert with the educational 501(c)3 Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), Ford is making a concerted effort to eliminate those barriers.
Ford is donating $250,000 to the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program to create a new signature program that encourages high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Called “Future Forward,” this program will engage 80 underrepresented students in a series of engineering courses, internships, and mentoring experiences to ensure they gain the aptitude, motivation and preparation needed to pursue successful STEM careers.
“I know from personal experience that young men and women in underserved communities need help overcoming the societal and financial obstacles that can derail even the most ambitious students who have significantly less access to achieving the American Dream,” said Ken Washington, chief technology officer, Ford Motor Company. “As Ford builds the future of mobility, we are building the ladders for a more diverse group of young people to reach their goals while helping us transform the world through programs such as Future Forward with the Detroit Area Prep-College Engineering Program.”
Intended to engage boys and girls in 11th and 12th grade, Future Forward will support students with pre-college preparation courses, mentorship from Ford employees, and the opportunity to apply for summer internships at the company.
“DAPCEP is thrilled to be selected to receive Ford STEM Signature Program funding. Ford has been one of DAPCEP’s founding partners and their decades of support has been vital to our impact in the community,” said DAPCEP Executive Director Michelle Reaves. “According to recent UCLA research, 22 percent of Black students and 29 percent of Latinx students complete a STEM degree within six years. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the world will need more scientists, engineers and researchers who represent and support underrepresented communities.”
Future Forward was created by Washington’s Research and Innovation Center team that helps organize the company’s wide-ranging STEM efforts, with a focus on expanding its student outreach and making a significant impact on existing educational programs. The group received additional funding in 2021 to expand support for eligible programs that aim to generate a meaningful way for students to experience STEM fields and expand access to underserved communities. In addition to funding, Ford provides program engagement as well as student mentorship.
Established 44 years ago, DAPCEP provides rigorous and inspiring STEM programming to 11,000 pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade students throughout Southeast Michigan each year. With a 50:50 female-male ratio and near 100 percent graduation rate, DAPCEP remains one of the leading organizations for maximizing youth potential. DAPCEP collaborates with a variety of local schools and universities, corporations, community organizations, and public entities. Since their founding, DAPCEP has amassed more than 68,000 alumni, 70 percent of whom have entered STEM careers. Approximately 150 of DAPCEP alumni have worked at Ford.
Climbing ladders to STEM success
Future Forward will be focused on supporting students in three key ways:
Beginning in February 2021, Future Forward will initiate two separate tracks to serve students. On the first track, the program will select 40 high-achieving 12th grade students to participate in the eight-week “Steps to Success” course, which focuses on topics such as college transition, career awareness and exposure, professional and workplace skills, networking and financial literacy.
As part of this course, students will also be able to apply for the summer internship program at Ford, which will designate 10 spaces for DAPCEP students. Students who are not selected for internships will participate in a robust mentorship program developed in partnership with Ford employees. They will also participate in a pre-year-1 college program consisting of continuing support from DAPCEP and mentorship by Ford employees.
On the second track of the program, beginning February 2021, 40 11th grade students will take part in a series of eight-week academic courses focused on mechanical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering. These courses will help ensure students understand foundational concepts and will be built with input from Ford employees to ensure the curriculum reflects current industry practices.
Students interested in learning more about DAPCEP and the Future Forward program can visit: http://www.dapcep.org/programs/ford-future-forward/