The Henry Ford in Dearborn today announced the launch of the William Davidson Foundation Initiative for Entrepreneurship, made possible by a $1.5-million grant, that allows the institution to provide the next generation of entrepreneurs hands-on learning experiences.
The initiative includes an entrepreneur-in-residence program, a public speaker series, workshops, and the expansion of youth programming that leverages the institution’s Archive of American Innovation.
It will strengthen the Michigan Invention Convention and the National Invention Convention, which connect youth inventors with professional entrepreneurs. It also provides funding for the institution’s existing project to digitize more of its collections.
“Inspiring future innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs is at the core of The Henry Ford’s mission,” says 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’s first entrepreneur in residence will be Melvin Parson, founder of We The People Growers Association in Ypsilanti. Parson is an urban farmer and social justice and equality activist. Through his association, he uses gardening and farming as a vehicle for change. He will use the four working farms in Greenfield Village as a learning lab for teens in the program while being a part of The Henry Ford’s team working on the development of future agriculturally focused programming for the museum.
Two entrepreneurs in residence will be selected each year, and each will serve a six-month residency. They 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, and energy; information and communication; social transformation; and design and making.
“Entrepreneurs help to shape the culture and economy of any region,” says Darin McKeever, president and CEO of the William Davidson Foundation in Birmingham. “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. We are thrilled to support The Henry Ford as it explores ways to spark the next startup or speed the next invention.”
Lauren Bush Lauren will serve as the initiative’s first speaker. She founded FEED in 2007 after seeing childhood hunger first hand while traveling with the World Food Programme. Tickets for Lauren’s presentation are $40 and include a FEED Bag. They can be purchased here or by calling (313) 982-6001.
The William Davidson Foundation has supported The Henry Ford since 2012.
The initiative is part of The Innovation Project, a $150-million comprehensive funding campaign from The Henry Ford to build digital and experiential learning tools, programs, and initiatives to advance innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship. More information on the project is available here.