Ford and Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, launched the Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Panama. The tour is an education initiative that will deliver more than US$ 50,000 in motivational activities, school grants and scholarships designed to prevent students from dropping out of school. Ford is collaborating on the tour with United Way Panama and the Ministry of Education of Panama.
"For more than 100 years Ford Motor Company has worked to make a better world for the communities where we do business," said Jim Vella, President, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "The vitality and growth of every nation depends in great part on educating our young people, and we are excited to bring our innovative program for helping kids stay in school to Panama."
The Ford Driving Dreams Tour in Panama will focus on middle school students ages 13-15. According to the University of Panama's Research Center, this is the population at most risk of dropping out of school due to a combination of social and economic factors, such as the lack of resources for school supplies, meals and transportation, among others.
More than 300 students from 19 public schools located in some of the most vulnerable communities in and near the capital such as San Miguelito, and the nearby provinces of West Panama and Colon were selected by Panama's Ministry of Education to participate in the program. While these students are in good academic standing and have untapped potential, they are vulnerable due to socio-economic factors and at risk of dropping out of school. Each of the 19 participating schools will receive a US$ 2,000 grant to support needed resources that will improve the learning environment for their students.
As part of the program, students experienced a full day of high-energy motivational and goal-setting activities led by professional subject-matter experts. They also heard life-changing testimonies from motivational speakers, such as former Boxing World Champion Chemito Moreno and athlete César Barría who is the first Latin-American and Central-American with a disability to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. Students were inspired and motivated to lead a positive life, define their dreams and acquire the skills to achieve them.
The Ford Driving Dreams Tour will also deliver US$ 10,500 in scholarships through the "What Drives Your Dreams?" essay contest. The contest reinforces the importance of education while pursuing a dream and giving back to the community. The scholarships will help students and their families defray the costs of school supplies, books, transportation, meals and other basic needs that often keep students from finishing the school year and moving on to the next grade level. The scholarships will be administered by United Way Panama.
The Ford Driving Dreams Tour was designed by Ford Motor Company Fund to help Latino youth graduate on time and pursue higher education. Launched in 2012, the program has reached more than 30,000 students in Chicago, Indiana, Florida and Texas. Ford Driving Dreams initiatives, including the Tour, have delivered more than US$ 1,500,000 in educational resources such as scholarships, college preparedness, tutoring programs, parental engagement, and motivational activities. In addition to Panama, the tour will be implemented in Northern California in 2015.