Ford Fund Expands Ford Driving Dreams Program in Panama; Returns with Educational Resources and a New STEAM Component

Ford Fund Expands Ford Driving Dreams Program in Panama; Returns with Educational Resources and a New STEAM Component

  • 300 students from ten public middle schools in Panama participate in Ford Driving Dreams motivational activities to promote education
  • 25 students will be selected to win scholarships by competing in the “What Drives Your Dreams?” essay contest
  • New STEAM pilot component to be launched later this year in partnership with Fundesteam, a local nonprofit that supports innovative educational programs

PANAMA, P.A., June 27, 2018 – Ford Motor Company Fund returns to Panama to kick off Ford Driving Dreams with a full day of high-energy, encouraging and goal-setting activities for 300 middle school students. Since 2014, Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, has invested more than $300,000 in scholarships, grants and resources in Panama.

The kick-off rally is for students with good academic standing from ten schools located in some of the most vulnerable areas in Coclé, San Miguelito, and the West, Central and North Regions of Panama. While at the rally, students were inspired by motivational speakers such as Paralympic athlete César Barría, who spoke about the importance of education and overcoming obstacles. The activities were held at the Hotel Sortis in collaboration with United Way Panama and The Ministry of Education of Panama (MEDUCA). Students from participating schools had the opportunity to compete in the “What Drives Your Dreams?” essay contest for a chance to win scholarships. These scholarships are meant to help students and their families defray the cost of school supplies, books, transportation, food, and other basic needs that often prevent them from finishing the school year and moving on to the next grade.

This year, students also presented poems, dramatic skits and songs about what drives the dreams of today’s youth and why these dreams are important. A judging committee selected three groups as the winners. In addition, a new component of the program will be piloted later this year in partnership with Fundesteam, a nonprofit organization committed to the promotion and development of education in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). One of the ten participating public schools will be chosen to receive robotics laboratories, STEAM workshops, teachers training and more.

“Making people’s lives better is not an easy task. At Ford, we are committed to this goal, and to reach it, education is key,” said Joe Avila, manager, community development, U.S. and Latin America, Ford Fund. “The resources we provide through Ford Driving Dreams will empower these students to pursue their academic dreams and help them go further personally and professionally.”

Ford Driving Dreams continues to support Panama students ages 13 and 14 because they are most at risk of dropping out of school due to economic factors, such as meal shortages, limited access to transportation and a lack of school supplies. Since 2014, Ford Driving Dreams has positively impacted more than 20,000 students in Panama. The scholarships and school grants will be administered by United Way Panama during the 2018-2019 school year.

“United Way Worldwide has a long legacy that relates to Ford Motor Company Fund and focuses on important community needs,” said Mercedes Eleta de Brenes, president of United Way Panama. “Our Panama chapter is excited to continue the success of this collaboration and foster a legacy of offering access to educational resources and tools for our schools and youth in Panama.”

Ford Driving Dreams Panama is part of the global philanthropic efforts of Ford Better World. Working together with dealers and other groups, Ford Fund promotes sustainable communities through local investments. Today, Ford supports Operation Better World in more than 40 countries.

The Ford Driving Dreams Tour was designed by Ford Motor Company Fund in 2012 to help students graduate on time and pursue higher education. Since its launch, the program has reached more than 100,000 students in California, Chicago, Florida, Indiana, Panama, Puerto Rico and Texas. Ford Driving Dreams initiatives have delivered close to $10 million in educational resources such as scholarships, college preparedness, tutoring programs, parental engagement and literacy activities. Find us on Ford Driving Dreams Facebook, Instagram and with #forddrivingdreams on Twitter.