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Ford’s HBCU Community Challenge awards thousands to schools, students


Photo credit: Ford Motor Co.

Two MBA candidates from Clark Atlanta University earned well-deserved kudos and the top prize of $75,000 at the third annual Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge. Bradley Gilbeaux and Damon Willis created an ingenious lawn irrigation system that wirelessly tracks weather forecasts and soil moisture to water only when needed. The $75,000 prize was awarded to the school and the students, and it will cover scholarships, grants, and implementation fees.

Students in the national contest were asked to develop projects that creatively address a community need touching on at least one of these four areas: mobility, alternative energy, sustainability-water, and a systematic approach to meeting community needs.

North Carolina A&T State University was awarded the second place prize of $15,000 for their development of a plan to develop creative work spaces for innovation and entrepreneurship for teens in the Greensboro area. Alabama A&M University captured the third place prize of $10,000 to implement a project that combines a community garden and vehicle distribution system to reach needy residents.

Jointly supported by Ford Marketing and Ford Motor Company Fund, with participation from national radio personality and longtime supporter Tom Joyner, and the “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” the challenge is a reflection of Ford’s longtime commitment to supporting the African American community, and its focus on education. PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” host, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. assisted Joyner with the final judging. Gates praised the event’s unprecedented distinction, “Ford’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities Community Challenge is a model of corporate support for our historically black schools — one other companies should emulate,” he said.

“Rarely have I been prouder of any students, anywhere,” Gates added.

In addition to their prizes, each student member received iPads. In total, the Ford HBCU challenge awarded $100,000 in scholarships and grants.

Photos: Ford Motor Co.