Pamela Alexander

Pamela Alexander Director of community development Ford Motor Company Fund COURTESY PHOTO

Dearborn, Mich.— Students at Morgan State University (MSU) in Baltimore, Maryland, will benefit from the university having won top honors and $25,000 in the Second Annual Ford HBC-You Mobility Challenge. Morgan’s FRESHLY Program will address food insecurity and help students access mass transit and connect to healthy food resources and grocery stores.

At the heart of the FRESHLY Program is a student-built software app that will allow students to navigate between meal planning and prep courses and trips to grocery stores and farmer’s markets using university shuttles— all under the universally applied and implemented COVID-19 protocols. Students will use the app to make reservations and track shuttle locations. The grant also will support Saturday shuttle service, connecting students to surrounding grocery stores and the MSU Food Resource Center, which was launched two years ago as a ground-breaking wrap-around service provider for students facing food insecurities. Students will also receive instruction on meal planning that focuses on nutrition, the art of couponing, and how to maneuver through local grocery store apps.

“The quality of proposals we received from Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the Ford HBC-You Challenge from across the country was outstanding,” said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. Understanding smart mobility needs on their campuses and proposing well- crafted solutions that will make a real difference in people’s lives demonstrates the passion that students have for serving their communities.”

Second place and $10,000 was awarded to students from Talladega College in Talladega, Ala. Talladega students partnered with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) to develop improved sidewalks with truncated domes, which are raised circles on the pavement used to alert visually-impaired pedestrians when they’ve reached the end of a sidewalk. Created by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, the Ford HBC-You Mobility Challenge asks students, alumni, faculty and administrators to design innovative mobility-based projects that address critical campus or community needs consistent with charitable purposes.

“Resources are absolutely critical in our collective effort to assist those in our community facing extenuating circumstances— chief among them is food insecurity, which is a real issue even for students on college campuses,” said Kevin Banks, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs at Morgan State University. “We are extremely thankful to Ford for spearheading social responsibility programs that benefit and uplift communities. The Ford HBC- You Mobility Challenge Grant will have an immediate impact on Morgan’s Food Resource Center and its capacity to combat hunger on our campus and within the greater Morgan Community.” With the theme of “Making Lives Better: Changing the Way We Move Through Smart Mobility,” the challenge was created to empower HBCU students, alumni, faculty, and administrators to collaborate on creating and implementing sustainable solutions that address unmet needs and improve the lives of individuals within their communities.

“Talladega College and AIDB are both student-centered organizations and we share a special bond. The innovative Ford HBC-You Mobility Challenge Grant will strengthen this bond while enhancing the lives of deaf and blind students at both institutions by providing them with greater mobility and independence,” said Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins.

The Ford Fund has long been a supporter of HBCUs, shifting now to a focus on mobility. Ford Fund invests more than $13 million a year in various educational outreach initiatives including grants, scholarships and other programming worldwide. More recently, Ford Fund worked with the United Negro College Fund to provide transportation to students needing assistance to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information on Ford’s programs that support the African American community, go to http://fgb.life.