Ford Motor Company Fund grants Kettering University and Asbury Community Development Center $25,000 to develop solar-powered irrigation system

Our desired outcome is to enhance the understanding of the potential of solar energy to provide sustainable solutions in the community while enhancing residents’ access to proper nutrition in Flint.”

The Ford Motor Company Fund has awarded Kettering University and the Asbury Community Development Center in Flint $25,000 to integrate productive solar energy systems to scale up urban gardening efforts in the community. The award is part of the Ford College Community Challenge (C3).

“Nutrition is a big issue for people in our community,” said Pastor Tommy McDoniel. “Then the water crisis hit. With proper nutrition, many of those negative side effects can be kept dormant.”

In response to the nutrition issues in the Eastside neighborhoods in Flint, Asbury purchased and leased land in the neighborhood surrounding Asbury Church from the Genesee County Land Bank and constructed a hoop house to provide year-round access to healthy food options.

Now, Kettering students will assist with the project by installing solar-assisted irrigation systems for the community gardens. The proposed project will also use surface rain catchment to collect water.

“With the sustainable method of collecting rain water, we can really turn this project into a large-scale process, into a large-scale business involving the community,” said Noah Lukins ‘18.

Lukins believes that Kettering students will be able to apply the engineering skills learned in the classroom and from their co-op employers to provide leadership and expertise on the project. 

Support from the Ford Motor Company Fund will lead to the development and installation of the solar technology. The ultimate goal of the project is to implement sustainable technologies in urban gardens in Flint to improve urban agricultural outputs and enhance access to healthy food for residents in Flint.

Dr. Laura Sullivan

Each year, 10 Ford C3 grants of $25,000 are awarded by Ford Motor Company Fund to colleges and universities. The winning proposals address an unmet community need tied to driving social mobility, changing the way people move through smart mobility and building sustainable communities. Overall, the program is designed to empower college students to inspire community-building projects addressing pressing local needs. The Ford C3 is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017.

The foundation of Kettering’s project is a unique partnership between Kettering faculty and students and a community non-profit in Flint. Dr. Laura Sullivan, Mechanical Engineering faculty member, is driving the collaboration by connecting Kettering students with community initiatives.

“This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate leadership in the community with an emphasis on sustainability. I’m looking forward to seeing Noah leading other Kettering students to engage residents of Flint about the potential of solar energy to help pump water for urban gardens,” Sullivan said. “Our desired outcome is to enhance the understanding of the potential of solar energy to provide sustainable solutions in the community while enhancing residents’ access to proper nutrition in Flint.”

About Ford Motor Company Fund

Ford Motor Company Fund is the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. Ford Fund works with community and global partners to advance education, safe driving and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 67 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving.  Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Driving Dreams, Ford Next Generation Learning and other innovative programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit

About The Ford College Community Challenge

Through the Ford College Community Challenge, Ford Motor Company Fund aims to support colleges and universities as they work with students to design and develop tangible community projects that address critical local needs in new ways, with a focus on helping the community become a more sustainable place to work and live.