DEARBORN, Mich., — Four architectural students from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, won top honors at the 2016 Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge with a software app that enables homeowners to monitor water and energy use in real-time. The innovative app, which helps homeowners adjust their utility use and save money, earned the students $75,000 in scholarships, grants and implementation funds.
Second place and $15,000 was awarded to a team from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Hampton students developed a program that tracks sea levels for communities at risk of flooding. Students from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, took third place and $10,000 for a project that raises freshwater fish for consumption in local homes. Each team member also received an iPad.
“We received numerous outstanding entries from Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country,” said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Although selecting the three winners was extremely difficult, we’re proud the challenge encouraged all of the students to think about how they can support their communities.”
Now in its fourth year, the Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge is modeled after the Ford College Community Challenge, a signature Ford Fund program that challenges students globally to design innovative projects that address critical sustainability needs in their communities. To date, the program has awarded $400,000 in scholarships, grants and implementation funds.
Raj Register, Ford manager for multicultural communications, said teaming up with Historically Black Colleges and Universities on a program with positive, far-reaching community impact is a natural move for an innovation leader like Ford.
“Ford is proud to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities with this unique program showcasing such talented and pioneering students,” she said.
Ford’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge is jointly supported by Ford marketing and Ford Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, with participation from national radio personality and longtime booster Tom Joyner. In addition to Alexander and Joyner, other judges include Henry Ford III, Ford Performance global marketing manager; and Burt Jordan, Ford vice president, global vehicle and powertrain purchasing and supplier diversity.
Ford has long been a supporter of diverse communities, with a particular focus on education. Ford Fund invests $10 million a year in educational outreach including grants, scholarships and other programming.
To view the journey these students took, follow #FordHBCU.