Davidson grant to boost entrepreneurial education at The Henry Ford

DEARBORN — Officials at The Henry Ford have announced the launch of the William Davidson Foundation Initiative for Entrepreneurship, made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the foundation.

The intiative is to include an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, a public speaker series featuring influencers in entrepreneurship, workshops, and the expansion of youth programming that will use the institution’s Archive of American Innovation to create a deep and engaging understanding of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship from a young age.

The initiative will work to strengthen the institution’s existing youth programming, the Michigan Invention Convention and the National Invention Convention, and connect youth inventors with seasoned entrepreneurs from Southeast Michigan and around the country.

It also provides additional funding for the institution’s existing project to digitize more of its collections, specifically related to entrepreneurship, including creating more video content for its “Visionaries on Innovation” series and funding to begin design of physical collaboration spaces in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

“Inspiring future innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs is at the core of The Henry Ford’s mission,” said Patricia Mooradian, president and CEO of The Henry Ford, “It defines the unique role we can play in building a healthier entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city of Detroit and in the southeast Michigan region.”

The Henry Ford will welcome Melvin Parson, founder of We The People Growers Association in Ypsilanti, as its inaugural Entrepreneur-in-Residence. As an urban farmer, and social justice and equality activist, Parson founded the association to empower people to make a positive contribution to their community through education and positive social networks using gardening and farming as the vehicle for change. He will use the four working farms in Greenfield Village as a learning lab for teaching teens in the program and will also work as part of The Henry Ford’s team on the development of future agriculturally focused programming for the museum.

“Entrepreneurs help to shape the culture and economy of any region,” said Darin McKeever, president and CEO of the William Davidson Foundation. “Our state and our country’s future are therefore bound up with our ability to inspire and support those emerging entrepreneurs — wherever they might live, work or go to school.”

The Henry Ford will select two entrepreneurs-in-residence per year, each serving a six-month residency. These influencers will have access to the institution’s collection and conduct workshops for youth and emerging entrepreneurs in the areas of agriculture and the environment, mobility, power & energy, information & communication, social transformation and design & making.

In addition, the institution is pleased to welcome its first speaker in the initiative, Lauren Bush Lauren. Lauren founded FEED in 2007 after seeing the reality of childhood hunger firsthand while traveling with the World Food Programme. She created the first FEED Bag as a tangible way for her peers to get involved. To this day, every product her company makes has a number on it, representing the school meals donated with its purchase. Tickets for Lauren Bush Lauren are $40 and include a FEED Bag. Remarks begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at thehenryford.org or by calling (313) 982-6001.

The William Davidson Foundation has been a consistent supporter of The Henry Ford since 2012, making possible the opening of the Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and the Davidson-Gerson Gallery of Glass in Greenfield Village. Its overall support for innovation-related programming includes helping launch The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, the Emmy-award-winning television show.

The initiative is part of The Innovation Project, a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign from the institution, to build digital and experiential learning tools, programs and initiatives to advance innovation, invention and entrepreneurship.

For more details on specific programs and initiatives comprising The Innovation Project, visit theinnovationproject.org.

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