Homelessness is a human crisis with no easy fixes. But through an innovative Ford Motor Company Fund program, SOS will garner some fresh ideas to help fuel its mission into the future.
As part of the automaker’s Thirty Under 30 corporate leadership program, an elite group of Ford fellows will spend a year working alongside SOS staff to learn the ins and outs of running a nonprofit as well as help SOS develop strategies to connect with younger generations who represent a future donor and volunteer base.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
“We are thrilled to be a part of Ford’s commitment to share their company’s up-and-coming talent with organizations like ours, working to address the tragedy of homelessness and housing insecurity in our communities,” said Ryan Hertz, SOS president and CEO.
The Ford Thirty Under 30 program is a multi-faceted course that empowers 30 young employees to work with and learn about nonprofits like SOS. The goal: to shape young Ford talent into leaders who serve their communities.
Chosen from hundreds of Ford applicants who desire to make a difference in the lives of others, the 30 fellows have backgrounds in IT, financial services, engineering and marketing. Each year, the program will focus on a different social issue with this year’s theme being homelessness/affordable housing.
“The issues of homelessness, affordable housing and shelter play into the community’s basic needs and provide a deeper look into the systemic poverty many people face,” said Rene Palileo, Thirty Under 30 program manager. “For the Ford Fund, our strategy is to make sure the resources we are responsible for are invested in programs and agencies that provide greater access for those in need.”
The young Ford fellows will meet with SOS staff four to six times throughout the program and volunteer on an ongoing basis. In fact, Palileo said many past Ford Fund fellows have continued to volunteer at their partner agencies long after their participation in the program ends.
In addition, they’ll put their newly learned problem-solving skills to work for SOS by choosing an existing program or initiative to improve or expand.
“The Design Thinking Process being taught through this program equips our employees with a new way to solve problems: to reframe challenges and refine solutions,” Palileo added. “We want our fellows to learn how to provide something useful for our agency partners.”
No matter which SOS initiative these millennial minds decide to focus on, it’s a pretty good bet that technology will play an important role.
“The various systems that have failed our neighbors are complex, and it will take more than funding alone to adequately respond to their needs,” Hertz said. “We appreciate Ford Fund’s willingness to support our mission in this unique way and look forward to working with our fellows to see our programs in a new light.”
This knowledge-sharing partnership is sure to have a ripple effect that reaches far beyond the SOS staff and fellows involved.
And it must, if the end-goal is to ensure all of our neighbors have access to safe and affordable housing.
Want to help? Please visit www.southoaklandshelter.org/give where your donations can make a big difference for our neighbors in need of affordable housing.