BALTIMORE and TORRANCE, Calif. -
As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Toyota Financial Services and the Ford Motor Company Fund joined the festivities with actions that aimed at augmenting principles upheld by the famed civil rights leader.
TFS is continuing its support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their communities, by providing $60,000 to five HBCUs as well as the Tom Joyner Foundation.
“We're really excited to work with our new partner Toyota Financial Services," said Thomas Joyner, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the foundation. "The support of these scholarships is a really important step in helping these students complete their college education and, in the long run, help sustain these HBCUs."
Officials highlighted Bennett College in North Carolina, Tuskegee University in Alabama, and South Carolina State University will each receive a $10,000 contribution to support their scholarship funds.
Additionally, TFS is donating two $10,000 scholarships to Wiley College in Texas and North Carolina Central, through the Tom Joyner Foundation.
Furthermore, TFS is donating an extra $10,000 to support the Tom Joyner Foundation, as well. The foundation provides academic support, scholarships, and programming to more than 80 HBCUs in the Southern and Eastern United States. The overall goal of these contributions is to support educational opportunities within many of the communities in which TFS operates.
“Education is truly the greatest equalizer and should be accessible to all. Toyota Financial Services’ donation to Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a much needed investment that will help support students attending our HBCUs,” said Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from North Carolina and co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus.
“As a former professor, administrator, and an alumnus of an HBCU, I’m always happy to see the philanthropic endeavors of a socially responsible company that shares my interests in scholarship, education, and helping underserved communities,” Adams continued.
TFS group vice president of service operations and corporate planning Al Smith added, “Toyota Financial Services is honored to echo the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., by supporting these fine institutions and advocating higher education in these communities.
“TFS has a deeply held commitment to diversity and inclusion, not only now, but year round as seen with our national Making Life Easier Scholarship Program and with our 10th anniversary of supporting the CBS Baltimore Black History Month Oratory Contest,” Smith went on to say.
According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the college graduation rate for black students in the U.S stands at 42 percent, as opposed to 62 percent for their white counterparts. It is also noted that the financial support of universities is key in black student retention, thereby producing high graduation rates.
“When speaking with each of the institution's officials, it's so inspirational to hear how this money impacts these HBCUs and the plans that they have for these scholarships," said John Ridgeway, corporate manager of TFS’ customer service center in Maryland.
“HBCUs are challenged with lower student retention resulting from financial hardships. As a Toyota executive and an HBCU alumnus, I am proud that Toyota Financial Services is making a contribution to these HBCUs and the Tom Joyner Foundation to support their efforts,” Ridgeway went on to say.
TFS has been named a Diversity Inc Top 50 company for the past eight years in a row and has been consistently recognized by Black Enterprise, Hispanic Business, and the Human Rights Campaign as a Best Company for Diversity and one of the Best Places to Work. TFS executives actively support and sponsor the company’s many diversity and inclusion initiatives.
For more information about Toyota's commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit .
Ford throws support behind Men of Courage
Officials from the Ford Motor Company Fund on Monday launched a national initiative around Men of Courage — a program that honors and amplifies the accomplishments of African-American men with the goal of strengthening communities and creating positive social change.
The Blue Oval’s charity arm explained the initiative consists of a national contest of inspirational stories from which Ford will select a winner to honor at Ford Freedom Awards May 17 in Detroit.
Ford Fund is also developing a free online curriculum and teaching guide that profiles 20 prominent African American men. The program seeks to enable junior and secondary high school students to create visions for success. Visit for contest and curriculum information.
The national contest is being launched as part of a Men of Courage gathering at Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore. Ford, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, and 100 Black Men of America convened a diverse group of 60 black men ranging in age from 17 to 70 for a daylong forum of storytelling, visioning and developing plans for action.
“Ford has a long history of supporting the African American community and is a trusted source when it comes to building communities,” said forum participant Burt Jordan, Ford vice president of global vehicle and powertrain purchasing and supplier diversity.
“Men of Courage has the power to bring together African American men in a way that will positively impact people throughout the country,” Jordan continued.
Group members have made more than 300 commitments to provide social and financial capital to projects honoring black men. These include support for a yearlong program at Reginald F. Lewis Museum around the theme, Year of the Black Male, which explores past, present and future issues facing black men.
Members also have pledged to help scale Shop Talk — a monthly panel discussion; the series was developed by Sebastian Jackson, a Detroit-based entrepreneur and owner of Social Grooming, an innovative barbershop and community meeting place.
“I believe we have the talent and skills to solve today’s social challenges right in our own communities,” said Calvin Butler Jr., CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company.
“Men of Courage is an important program because it provides support to those who are developing solutions, and gives our young people a guide to how they can create a brighter future for themselves,” Butler added.
Launched as a pilot program in Detroit last year, Men of Courage is geared to connect diverse black men from local communities with a growing list of renowned advocates and celebrities. Together, these groups seek to support one another and align to build relationships in an effort to help improve the perception of African American men in society.
“After being a part of the Men of Courage pilot program and witnessing the benefits of uplifting our community, I am proud to lend my voice and take this effort to the national level,” said Big Sean, Grammy-nominated multi-platinum-selling artist.
Ford is also continuing to work with former Detroit mayor and NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing to elevate positive stories from a range of audiences.
The company’s support of the African American community dates back to the early 20th century when Ford was the largest employer of African Americans in the auto industry.
“Now, with signature initiatives including Men of Courage, the annual Ford Freedom Awards and Historically Black Colleges & Universities Community Challenge, Ford is building on that support,” officials said.
Follow the online conversation using hashtag #MenOfCourage.