Ford is donating $250,000 to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) to create the Detroit Area Bridge Scholars Program, intensifying ongoing efforts to reach underrepresented students and prepare them for successful academic and professional careers in STEM fields.
Underrepresented students often face a trifecta of obstacles to overcome on their way to earning a degree in STEM fields: The overwhelming cost of school tuition, lack of preparation for university-level academic courses and little guidance on how to translate academic skills to the real world.
The new donation from Ford helps NACME address all these issues, enabling the organization to collaborate with one of its 36 university partners, University of Michigan, to create a digital bootcamp and mentoring program that will provide high school students with scholarships, educational courses and mentorship opportunities. The program plans to engage 60 students across Southeast Michigan before they enter 11th grade and support their education through their first year of college – culminating with an opportunity to earn an internship at Ford.
“The number of ambitious, capable students the STEM field loses every year due to lack of funding and support is simply unacceptable,” said Ken Washington, Chief Technology Officer, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to building bridges so that people from all walks of life have the chance to be successful in STEM – and make a difference at places like Ford by changing the way we move.”
The new three-year program from NACME will be focused on recruiting students in Metro Detroit, where the organization already works alongside the University of Michigan to provide students with the necessary tools to succeed academically and gain admission to college.
“Ford Motor Company’s support of the Southeast Michigan Pathway to Engineering program is transformative,” said Michele Lezama, NACME president and CEO. “It will create meaningful opportunities for talented students to qualify for collegiate programs in engineering or computer science, fields that are a competitive need in the Unvited States. We are extremely grateful to Ford for its leadership on the decision to strategically invest in our nation’s talent.”
Created by the Ford Research and Innovation Center team that helps organize the company’s wide-ranging STEM efforts, the 2021 STEM Signature Program aims to make a significant impact on existing educational programs. The group expanded its support in 2021 to eligible programs that aim to generate a meaningful way for students to experience STEM fields and increase access to underserved communities. In addition to funding, Ford provides program engagement as well as student mentorship.
Founded in 1974, NACME non-profit has grown to be the largest provider of college scholarships for underrepresented minorities pursuing degrees at schools of engineering. NACME works with other organizations to also provide resources and opportunities for high-achieving minority college students to produce well-qualified candidates capable of succeeding in engineering and computer science.
Building Bridges to the Future
In addition to providing scholarships, the Detroit Area Bridge Scholars Program will support students in several ways, offering them meaningful experiences that will inspire them to pursue a career in STEM fields.
Through their last two years in high school, the program will offer engineering “bridge” courses to properly prepare students for college. Students will be recruited to participate in the University of Michigan’s Introduction to Technology and Engineering program, where they will study math, engineering concepts, technical communication skills, and academic study skills in regularly scheduled classes.
In addition to the core academic courses, MITE students will have the opportunity to interact with engineering role models through field trips, speakers, and enrichment activities conducted by university faculty, staff and students. Before their senior year, students will also participate in the Summer College Engineering Exposure Program, an 11-day residential program that introduces students to various engineering disciplines.
Students will also be paired with an engineering mentor – Ford employees, NACME alumni and University of Michigan engineering alumni – to meet with on a bi-monthly basis. NACME and Ford will work together to create meaningful interactions between mentors and students to demonstrate how engineering skills can be applied in professional settings.
Additionally, NACME will hold bi-monthly webinars centered around college preparation, including university applications, financial aid, study skills, and SAT/ACT prep resources.
NACME supports about 1,000 students each year, matriculating with renewing scholarships every four years. There are roughly 12,000 NACME alum across the US.