Turning Dreams into Reality LULAC and Ford Motor Company Fund’s Ford Driving Dreams Celebrates Ten Years!

Posted on 06/04/2020 @ 01:30 PM

Somewhere in communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, there are over 2,500 men and women whose lives were changed by their participation in LULAC and Ford Motor Company Fund’s Ford Driving Dreams Program during the past ten years. 2020 marks a decade of service for one of our most enduring and successful partnerships that has seen the investment of more than $1.6 million by Ford Fund into the academic future of Latino youths at a time when 1-in-5 persons in America is Latino, a ratio that will go to 1-in-3 by 2060.

From California to Florida, Puerto Rico to Wisconsin, and in every region in-between, LULAC has reached into our nation’s public schools and community-based organizations to extend resources to at risk high school students. Through this two-year program, students receive access to tutoring, mentoring, college prep, career exploration, STEM workshops, and much more. Today, the participating students are excelling and have the lowest dropout rate ever among their contemporaries and the fastest-growing enrollment in community colleges and other institutions of higher learning. Still, there is work to do according to data compiled by Pew Research. In 2016, the high school dropout rate among Hispanics remained higher at 10% compared to their White (5%), Asian (3%), and Black (7%) counterparts.

“The Ford Driving Dreams Program is truly one of the most sought after by our councils in California,” says Yvonne Gonzalez-Duncan, LULAC California State Director. “This unique mentorship, personal development and team-building project over a two-year span allows students to grow in their abilities and skills, forms lasting friendships, and engenders self-confidence which is essential to their long-term academic success. Our experience has been that students who complete the Ford Driving Dreams journey emerge transformed, excited about their futures and eager to get started,” she adds.

The power of the program’s curriculum is its emphasis on impacting confidence in students that they can achieve their career goal, and providing role models with whom they can identify to make the experience meaningful for each of them. In addition, students receive personal tutoring support focused on areas that will impact admission opportunities to higher learning institutions, while also benefiting them through immediate academic improvement. Equally as important is empowering students with leadership development through the sharing of their personal journeys, goals and discussions about individual challenges they may be facing. Other workshops help participants learn about education and career pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) which are often areas these students didn’t consider attainable for them. Perhaps the single most popular aspect of the Ford Driving Dreams program is the chance to explore college opportunities and even visit campuses which is often an eye-opening experience.

“This is truly an opportunity too good to pass up,” says Lupe Martinez, LULAC Wisconsin State Director. “Just look at the results. 95% of the students regularly participating in the program will achieve an on-time promotion rate to the next grade. 90% of the project’s 25 participants, who graduate high school, will enroll in a post-secondary institution. 75% of students will retain or improve their overall GPAs. 50% of the project’s participants will reduce their number of absences. In addition, many of the students served become first-generation high school and college graduates. There’s no question that Ford Driving Dreams delivers on its promise of boosting our young scholars into better lives through education and career opportunities,” he adds.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis, Ford Fund and LULAC have adapted the Ford Driving Dreams Program to respond diligently to the rapidly changing situation while continuing to serve Latino communities across the nation.

“We’re excited to announce that LULAC and Ford are introducing a new dimension to this already very successful program and one which we know will make an even deeper impact,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer. “The Ford Driving Dreams program will now also provide COVID-19 relief to address the increased needs of Latino students and families during the pandemic. Our goal is to continue to strengthen our youth’s academic and personal support systems, and LULAC is looking forward to supporting them in these uncertain times,” says Benavides.

In collaboration, Ford Fund and LULAC are providing (50) $2,000 COVID-19 response grants to LULAC councils in the Ford Driving Dreams Network. These grants will support councils as they provide relief to their local communities in the following areas: food insecurity, mobility and transportation needs, technology resources, mental health, mentoring and online educational resources. The Ford Driving Dreams Program continues its legacy of driving the education of our nation’s youth further as we transition and adapt to online learning models.

LULAC and Ford Fund have forged a lasting partnership built upon the simple but enduring truth that educational opportunities are the gateway to realizing America’s promise to all. In just ten years, LULAC has seen 94% of the program’s graduates go on to enroll in a higher education. Already, more than 15,000 hours have been donated by volunteers and mentors in local initiatives. This is a testament to the more than 5,000 volunteers and mentors plus the 2,200 parents who have joined to help make a difference. So far, 82 Ford Driving Dreams programs hosted by LULAC councils and educational partners across 25 states and Puerto Rico have celebrated the experience of driving their dreams, and we’re just getting started. Now, it’s your turn and happy 10th anniversary to Ford Driving Dreams!


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