Ford Motor Company Fund is bringing the Ford Driving Dreams initiative to students in the Detroit area. Ford Fund, in collaboration with First Book, is donating 10,000 new books to kindergarten through elementary school students and will celebrate today with a reading party at the Ford Research and Engagement Center (FREC) for 65 third graders from Amelia Earhart Elementary School. Former professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya will read to the students along with Ford representatives.
“Education is central to our mission of improving people’s lives,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. “Encouraging our young people to read and explore the world through books is a tremendous way to empower future generations and enable them to reach their full potential.”
De La Hoya, former professional boxer known as the “Golden Boy” and 10-time world champion, will read to the students from his children’s book “Super Oscar.” Through his firm Golden Boy Productions, De La Hoya started a charitable foundation to help underprivileged youth find a path in education.
“Reading is a fundamental skill that needs to begin at an early age, but unfortunately, not all children have access to books in their community. I am honored and excited to be a part of an initiative that educates and inspires the kids of Detroit to get excited about reading books every day,” said De La Hoya.
Ford Driving Dreams is part of Ford’s overall education efforts in Detroit with a focus on keeping students in school and promoting reading at an early age. According to a 2015 report from The Nation’s Report Card, only seven percent of Detroit eighth graders were proficient in reading.
Nationally, research shows that in some low-income communities, there is only one book per 300 children. First Book is a nonprofit group that provides new books and educational resources to kids. Ford Driving Dreams was designed by Ford Motor Company Fund to help youth stay in school and pursue higher education.
Launched in 2012, the program has reached more than 75,000 students in California, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Texas, and Panama. Ford and its philanthropic arm, have invested $161 million over 10 years in southeast Michigan. In the past year, Ford has invested $20 million in local education, arts, cultural, diversity, hunger relief, and social organizations.