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CRAIOVA, Romania, June 14, 2018 Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, today announced that the first Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) in Europe is to be established in Romania, with a focus on social entrepreneurship.
The FREC Craiova is a collaboration with the Asociatia Pentry Educatie SV Oltenia (EDUCOL), a local non-profit organisation that seeks to maximise training, development and employment opportunities for young people; and with the City Hall of Craiova, which is providing building premises.
Underpinned by a $1 million investment over four years from the Ford Motor Company Fund in partnership with GlobalGiving, the new FREC will act as a social entrepreneurship incubator space where students and recent graduates from the University of Craiova can design and launch innovative and sustainable ways to drive social and economic progress. The aim is to positively impact the job growth, economic potential and quality of life for local residents in the Oltenia region.
The FREC Craiova, the fourth of its kind globally, will also help to bring together local non-profit partners, Ford volunteers, mentors and educational leaders to provide related employability and community programs helping local residents learn new skills, develop new talents and celebrate community.
In addition to the multi-year agreement signed between GlobalGiving, Ford Motor Company Fund’s international grant making partner, and EDUCOL, an additional $100,000 grant will also enable the building refurbishment to meet the specific needs of the FREC. Refurbishment work is already underway supported by Ford employees, the City Hall of Craiova, and the academic community of the University of Craiova – with students playing an active role.
Students and graduates will be invited to submit their social enterprise proposals by early September, with the first winning teams being announced in October at an inauguration ceremony. Each team will receive a start-up grant and have access to office facilities at the FREC.
“Ford Fund has a proud tradition of strengthening the communities that are home to our employees, dealers, suppliers and customers,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We are excited to bring our transformational Ford Resource and Engagement Center model to Europe and provide access to opportunities and resources that will help make people’s lives better in Romania.
The first FREC opened in 2013 in Detroit. Since then, Ford Fund has launched a FREC in South Africa and added a second FREC in Detroit. Plans are underway to expand to Asia as well, with a FREC launching in Bangkok in early 2019.
“By combining American expertise and enthusiasm for social enterprise with the fertile Romanian entrepreneurship environment, we hope to challenge more young people to become responsible and active members of their local community, driven by the desire to make a difference and be part of a global network. We are grateful and honoured to work with Ford Motor Company,” said Professor Leonardo-Geo M?nescu, President of EDUCOL.
Ford Fund works globally by making strategic investments focused on building communities, improving education and promoting driving safety as part of its Operation Better World initiative.
Recent Ford Motor Company Fund activities in Romania include the establishment of a Vocational Training Center specialising in mechanical and electrical engineering; “Listen to your heart” free of charge cardio-vascular disease screening program; and Ford Driving Skills for Life, a safe driver training program that reaches more than 1,000 young drivers each year in Romania and more than 2,500 teenagers through in-school seminars.