Ford is investing USD 250,000 to improve health, safety and education in seven communities surrounding its operation in Chennai. Under the banner of “Operation Goodwill,” the initiative is supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund, in partnership with its international grantmaker, the GlobalGiving Foundation. It is designed to bolster the company’s ongoing engagement in its communities and introduce projects to enable positive change and sustainable development in the villages.
Ford in India, which has supported initiatives to improve the livelihoods of the communities near its operations for a decade, will operate the program with the assistance of GlobalGiving, local NGO partners and a strong volunteer-led support and collaboration from its employees in Ford India Private Limited and Global Business Services.
“As Ford continues to grow and expand in India, we believe it is our obligation to give back, particularly in the communities where we have operations,” said Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India. “Our business philosophy is to empower our workforce and give them the tools and training needed to build top quality vehicles. With Operation Goodwill, our aim is likewise to help empower our local communities, providing the tools and training to improve quality of life.”
“At Ford, we become citizens of the countries and the communities in which we operate. Our community service efforts at Global Business Services are a true reflection of this ‘People Serving People’ attitude. We are deeply committed to going further and making a difference in the communities where we live and work” said Joginder Singh, president and managing director of Ford’s Global Business Services operation.
One of the new projects includes setting up 20 after-school tutoring centers near Ford’s Chennai Manufacturing Facility and in the Uthiramerur Block to coach government school students to improve their learning ability thanks to a new partnership between Ford India and Aid India. “The objective is to ensure that every child achieves basic outcomes in Language, Math, English and Science and gets prepared to face the world with confidence. Local empowerment and a strong outcome focus are the hallmarks of the initiative”, said Balaji Sampath, secretary of Aid India.
The company is also working with The Society for Technology and Advancement for Rural Action (TARA–A social enterprise from the Development Alternatives group) for building school and community toilets as well as providing village water filters and The Society for Poor People Development (SPDD) to enable better skill development among village women through tailoring classes in the seven villages around the Chennai Facilities. Further, Ford India will execute a multi-year infrastructure extension activity at one of the village schools as well as enable better-stocked laboratories at two other Government schools.
Speaking on the program, Jim Vella, president Ford Fund said, “Operation Goodwill represents Ford’s ongoing commitment to support our employees and dealers around the world in their efforts to go further to improve the living conditions of communities where we live and work. I am confident that with this grant in India, we will make a meaningful difference in the lives of rural women and school children in the villages surrounding our manufacturing operations there.”
Ford India has already invested substantial resources and efforts in several Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in and around communities neighbouring its 200,000-capacity plant in Maraimalai Nagar near Chennai. In 2011, as part of the annual Ford Global Week of Caring, over 1000 volunteers from Ford in India came together to carry out several programmes in neighbouring communities in the areas of health, education, safety and environment.
Last year, the company’s employees renovated two Government schools in Chitamanur and Kizhakarnai villages neighboring its plant in Maraimalai Nagar, providing better classrooms, new uniforms, books and bags as well as better constructed toilets and drinking water facilities there.
In partnership with its dealers, Ford India has also trained 4500 drivers since launch of Ford Motor Company’s successful Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) training programme that educates new and older licensed drivers of all ages on safer, economical and eco-friendly driving practices.
Ford has also been named as the largest Voluntary Blood Donor in the Industrial Category in Tamil Nadu for 10 consecutive years (from 2000-2010) and has been the recipient of the Red Cross trophy.