Sustainability, Student Innovation Earn $280,000 in C3 Grants

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  • Dearborn, Mich. —­ This fall, students at the University of Georgia will take a novel approach to clearing invasive vegetation in a distressed part of the Athens campus: goats.

    Using grazing goats to clear weeds is one of 16 winning student sustainability projects at 15 colleges and universities worldwide in the 2014 Ford College Community Challenge. Each of the winning projects will receive a grant from Ford Motor Company Fund to support their work. As part of Ford Fund’s increasing international reach, the program for the first time includes schools outside of the United States.

    Ford C3 recognizes colleges and universities for utilizing school resources and student participation to address an urgent community need under the theme: Building Sustainable Communities. Ford C3 winners are required to present proposals for sustainable projects with significant student input, involvement and leadership. Water conservation, renewable energy, urban gardening, recycling and transportation are among the proposals submitted by these creative teams of students.

    "Educating the next generation of leaders is at the center of Ford Fund’s commitment to a better world," said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "Education, innovation and sustainable solutions is a powerful formula for success in our communities, and will help future engineers, managers and entrepreneurs build a solid foundation for the careers of tomorrow."

    The $280,000 in grants are part of $1 million in new scholarships, grants and career outreach programs that Ford’s philanthropic arm is launching this month to further its commitment to education.

    2014 Ford C3 winners
    • Fairmont State University, Fairmont, W.V. – This project will install community gardens over neglected tennis courts, and provide fresh food for the student food pantry and feeding program.
    • Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich. – Project to create a solar and water collection infrastructure, part of an energy farm and outdoor classroom with an instructional garden for the neighborhood and Detroit Public Schools.
    • Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich. – Deconstruct a dilapidated Detroit building, implement a standard assessment of the salvaged material, conduct tests for viable re-use and make a design proposal for a new building.
    • Kettering University, Flint, Mich. – Create a sustainable aquaponics farming system combining conventional aquaculture, such as raising fish, with hydroponics, or cultivating plants in water.
    • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. – This team is working with an African group to design a hybrid renewable energy system capable of providing power to 50 homes in Cameroon.
    • University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Mich. – Make park improvements in the local community to increase safety, accessibility and sustainability. The upgrades will incorporate ecological materials, recycling stations and water conservation systems.
    • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. – Continue the restoration of neglected and imperiled “marginal” landscapes, building upon a two-year effort to remove invasive vegetation from a campus stream corridor using “prescribed grazing” by goats.
    • University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. – This project would improve accessibility to public transit with an app for mobile devices that provides detailed bus stop information, including arrival, shelter and bench availability, to visually impaired people.
    • Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. – Expands the Tricycle Gardens’ Healthy Corner Store Initiative of the 2013 Ford C3 team by expanding a sustainable transportation solution to increase community access to fresh produce in neighborhood corner stores.
    • Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass. – The project, in partnership with Brookview House, will address the needs of Boston youth through improvements to the facilities, creating a supportive and safe environment for homeless women and children from our local communities.

    For the first time, Ford is expanding the C3 internationally, partnering with Enactus to include communities in Brazil and China. Enactus is an international organization that connects students, educators and business leaders to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for their communities.

    Global Ford C3 winners

    Brazil

    • Education and Research Institute, Insper Enactus team – Create employment opportunities for disadvantaged individuals by training them to produce and sell affordable eye glasses for low-income families. Volunteer doctors will provide prescriptions.
    • Federal Center for Technological Education, Celso Suckow da Fonseca Enactus team – Train organic farmers to turn discarded, but still edible, produce into sellable products. One group has already been trained to produce vinegar and dried fruit from damaged produce.
    China
    • Harbin Engineering University Enactus team – Train disabled women to create and sell fish skin paintings, a traditional Chinese art. The women also receive ongoing business training while leveraging a variety of sales channels to improve and promote traditional Chinese culture.
    • Jilin University Enactus team – Created an innovative solution for rural waste by converting garbage into enzymes to produce eco-friendly multi-purpose cleaners for dishes, floors and clothing.
    • Nanjing Agricultural University Enactus team – Convert discarded straw into an eco-friendly fertilizer by using a new technology that heats straw without oxygen to make carbon fertilizer.
    • Sun Yat-sen University Enactus team – Project to train farmers from a poor, isolated island village to utilize banana leaves to cultivate and sell mushrooms.

    In 2015, Ford is planning to expand the program to the Middle East and Africa. During the past seven years, Ford Fund has provided more than $1.7 million to student teams awarded Ford C3 grants.

    Campus Compact, a national higher education association dedicated to campus-based civic engagement, again partnered with Ford Fund in the U.S. to inform some 600 schools about this year’s grant program.