Ford Fund Announces Winners of its HBC-You Mobility Challenge

Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2021

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Ford Fund Announces Winners of its HBC-You Mobility Challenge; Savannah State University and Texas Southern University Each Awarded $25,000 Grants

  • Savannah State University to use kayaking as an equitable and sustainable transport option to their waterfront Marine Science Research Center and Outdoor Learning Laboratory
  • Texas Southern University to expand its Tiger Heart Tram initiative that includes an ADA-compliant eco-shuttle as a free service for passengers with disabilities
  • Now in its third year, the HBC-You Mobility Challenge has contributed $110,000 in grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for campus and community mobility solutions

Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, announces winners of its third annual HBC-You Mobility Challenge. The two winning Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Savannah State University and Texas Southern University, are each awarded $25,000 grants for their mobility-based solutions that address a campus or community need.

Students and faculty at Savannah State University will use the grant funds to create a new kayak-based transportation option for those needing access to the university’s new Marine Science Research Center and Outdoor Learning Laboratory. In addition, grant funding will expand the Tiger Heart Tram at Texas Southern University to provide an ADA-compliant shuttle service for students with disabilities.

In previous years we selected a first-place winner and runner-up. However, Savannah State University and Texas Southern University submitted compelling proposals both deserving of the $25,000 grant to implement and expand their mobility solution,” said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Both proposals address unique campus needs and the projects will help improve access and quality of life.

Savannah State University

The new project, Connecting HBCU Students to the Water and Providing Equitable Access to Facilities, will provide the most direct way to get between marine science buildings on and off-campus. The new Marine Science Research Center at Savannah State University was built nearly a mile off campus, while marine science classrooms remain on campus in an instructional building. Utilizing a tidal creek that runs behind campus, students and staff will be encouraged to use kayaks as a primary mode of transportation.

We are excited to move forward with this project. The kayaking resources funded by Ford Fund will provide an equitable and sustainable transportation option for Savannah State University students to access our research facility and new outdoor learning laboratory,” said Carol Pride, chair of the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Savannah State University. “In these stressful times, connectivity to nature and opportunities for reflection and physical activity are needed. Our students will now have these opportunities during a short kayak commute between classes and the Marine Science Research Center.”

Texas Southern University

The grant expands campus transportation options for Texas Southern University students, staff, and visitors with disabilities. The Tiger Heart Tram service provides a safe and effective way to get to and from class and other services on all parts of the 150-acre campus. In addition to the ADA-compliant shuttle and its regularly scheduled routes, Texas Southern University's LiveSafe app provides an immediate response to access the tram with the added benefit of trained operators who can assist mobility-challenged riders in using the service through smartphones.

“Texas Southern University is proud beyond measure to win the 2021 Ford HBC-You Mobility Challenge. Our commitment is unwavering to serve our Tiger family and the surrounding community through distinctive modes of transportation,” said Texas Southern University President Lesia L. Crumpton-Young, Ph.D. “The partnership with the Ford Fund will allow this hallowed institution to serve our campus and visitors with mobility issues, aiding all to move freely and efficiently around campus.”

Ford Fund Support of HBCUs

The Ford Fund has long been a supporter of HBCUs and invests in various educational outreach initiatives including grants, scholarships and other programming. Created in 2019, the HBC-You Mobility Challenge asks Historically Black College and University students, alumni, faculty and administrators to design and implement innovative mobility-based solutions that address unmet needs either on campus or within their community. Past recipients of the challenge include Langston University, Morgan State University, and Talladega College.

For more information on Ford Fund programs that support the African American community go to

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Last updated: 09/30/2021