MIAMI, FL –To ensure students in Miami-Dade County receive fresh produce and school supplies during distance learning, The Education Fund is teaming-up with Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, its self-driving technology partner Argo AI, and Ford Motor Company Fund, to make contactless deliveries in Ford’s Fusion Hybrid self-driving test vehicles. Ford is currently building a self-driving service in Miami-Dade for ride-hailing and goods delivery and offered to help make deliveries to students’ homes through this innovative pilot program.
Before COVID-19, The Education Fund seamlessly distributed produce from its first-in-the-nation Food Forest program at 26 schools in Miami-Dade and gave away millions of free classroom materials from its 11,000 sq. ft. school supply warehouse. Students would take bags filled with fresh produce and supplies home weekly. With the pandemic leaving many students learning from home, The Education Fund was looking for a variety of ways to provide supplies to students and their families safely.
“Ford saw an opportunity to broaden a critical supply pipeline to students,” said Linda Lecht, president of The Education Fund. “The deliveries ensure low-income students have nutritious food and the learning materials they need even at home. Ford’s truly unique support fuels our pursuit of innovation to help students succeed.”
Over an eight-week period, the Ford and Argo AI team is making weekly contactless deliveries of supplies to the families of approximately 50 students attending Feinberg Fisher K-8 in Miami Beach and Riverside Elementary School in Little Havana. The Education Fund packs harvest bags with organic greens grown in Food Forests at these schools, along with books, pens, masks and other materials. After the Ford and Argo AI team collects the bags at each school, the deliveries are made in Ford’s self-driving test vehicles with two highly-trained Test Specialists. In addition to supporting The Education Fund and the community, the Ford and Argo AI team are also developing key learnings through this pilot as it builds its self-driving service for Miamians.
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“As we pave the path for our self-driving services in Miami-Dade, we are committed to being active members of this vibrant community and supporting local institutions like The Education Fund that have been doing so much good for such a long time,” said Alex Buznego, Miami Market Manager, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. “Our goal is to be a part of Miami-Dade’s success by offering self-driving services that provide our neighbors with flexibility, reliability and value, allowing our community to achieve its fullest potential. This business pilot is foundational for developing our goods delivery business and doing so in collaboration with our fellow Miamians is the perfect way to continue to earn trust here.”
Parents like Leonarys Jardine welcome the deliveries of produce from the food forest at Feinberg Fisher K-8, where her children are in fifth and seventh grades. Jardine sautés spinach, seasons dishes using fresh herbs, and makes lemongrass tea.
“I grew up eating fresh produce,” said Jardine, who grew up in Venezuela. “I love that my children are learning to appreciate what comes from nature. It’s something that will stay with them for life, as it has with me.”
The philanthropic arm of Ford, The Ford Motor Company Fund, has long played an essential role in helping The Education Fund innovate to support student success. In 2020 alone, Ford Fund donated and raised $72,000 for the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief work, supporting its work as a critical distributor of school supplies and household goods to students and families.
“Ford Fund is proud to once again partner with the Education Fund. The opportunity to leverage Ford AV technology to assist families during COVID-19 is critical as we look to provide mobility and social solutions in our communities,” said Joe Avila, Manager U.S. & Latin America, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Since 2009, Ford Fund, in partnership with our Ford dealers, has invested more than $8 million in Miami with efforts focused on education, disaster relief and social entrepreneurship.”
With the help of donors like Ford, The Education Fund has provided nearly $3 million in materials and produce benefitting more than 90,415families, 60 schools and 1,500 teachers just since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
About The Education Fund: Raising more than $61+ million to improve education for public school students and teachers in Miami-Dade County,The Education Fund focuses on bringing innovative methods to our schools; informing the community about public education; and encouraging private sector investment in public education. Winning numerous awards for innovation, The Education Fund is currently directing Food Forests for Schools, a first-in-the-nation effort to install food forests as eco-labs on school grounds; Ideas with IMPACT, Miami-Dade’s only district-wide best practices network; Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials, the state’s first free-supplies warehouse & distribution program; Student Power, an action-government learning pilot; and SmartPath, a college & careers service for students. Visit EducationFund.org or join us at @educationfundmiami on Facebook and Instagram, and @educationfund on Twitter.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification; mobility solutions, including self-driving services; and connected services. Ford employs approximately 187,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit corporate.ford.com.
About Ford Motor Company Fund
As the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund’s mission is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better. Working with dealers and nonprofit partners in more than 50 countries, Ford Fund provides access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential. Since 1949, Ford Fund has invested more than $2 billion in programs that support education, promote safe driving, enrich community life and encourage employee volunteering. For more information, visit FordFund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About Argo AI
Argo AI is a technology platform company working with leading automakers to deliver a fully integrated self-driving system that makes getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. With global headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and offices in Detroit, Palo Alto, Cranbury, NJ, Miami, Austin, Washington DC, and Munich, Germany, Argo AI has more than 1,000 employees on a mission to build self-driving technology you can trust. For more information, visit www.argo.ai.