Toyota Inaugural Drive4Five Initiative Provides Grants to Address Community Needs in Michigan

Toyota Inaugural Drive4Five Initiative Provides Grants to Address Community Needs in Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (May 21, 2019) – Toyota is awarding impact grants to five Michigan-based nonprofit organizations through its inaugural Drive4Five campaign, building on the company’s longstanding commitment to serving the communities where its team members live and work. The grant awards will help address critical needs facing residents across the state within the five pillars of Toyota’s community outreach program, including safety, mobility, STEM education and environmental sustainability.

Drive4Five builds on Toyota’s long history of community investment in Michigan, where the company works with organizations to help create tangible, sustainable solutions that address societal challenges. In addition to providing direct financial assistance, the company will contribute volunteer hours from it over 1800 team members at Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D) Ann Arbor- and Saline-based research facilities.

“We’re proud to help advance the mission of our nonprofit collaborators across Southeast Michigan,” said Shinichi Yasui, president of TMNA R&D. “At Toyota, we are committed to giving our time, knowledge and resources to support our local communities. We are looking forward to making a meaningful and sustainable impact across the state, and to join with our grant award recipients in building toward a stronger future.”


FIRST in Michigan: Toyota FIRST Fund with Teams For All
Toyota will be the first company to offer a state-wide grant to existing middle and high school FIRST teams, expanding STEM access in rural and urban communities. FIRST Robotics is a robotics competition organization where students, coaches and mentors work during a six-week period to build robots that complete tasks such as launching balls and discs into goals, hanging on bars and/or balancing robots on beams. While teams are given a standard set of parts, teams must cover registration costs of buying or making specialized parts, which can be cost prohibitive and leave many teams unable to compete.

FIRST in Michigan is honored to have a collaborator like Toyota who listens to the needs of our teams and responds. For the first time, we will have a state-wide grant for middle school and high school teams not only where Toyota is located, but also in rural areas that don’t have access to large manufacturing companies for sponsorship. This will help level the playing field in a dramatic way and help prepare students to enter the workforce of tomorrow,” said Gail Alpert, president, FIRST in Michigan.

Community Foundation of Greater Flint: Upward Mobility
Toyota will support literacy and STEM education for a community in North Flint by establishing two “Start Your Impossible” community libraries at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) in North Flint.  The SBEV offers a community space, safe place for youth and afterschool education for children/families.  Toyota team members will help build the libraries, donate books, create an adult literacy center and develop a weekend STEM lab within the space. This grant also will tap into Toyota’s commitment of upward mobility by creating a Flint Fresh Mobile Market stand at SBEV which will be open for five days a week and once a week to the entire community to access healthy groceries in a food desert. Flint Fresh is a non-profit market whose mission is to bring sustainable access to healthy food to the Flint community. Their unique model is a collaboration of organizations to ensure community buy-in and support.  SBEV students will now have access to Rides to Wellness, which offers children transportation to medical appointments. SBEV serves 6000 families annually, supporting 300+ students per day through more than seven after school programs in a community where all local schools have closed.

“Our collaboration with Toyota is exciting because it supports literacy – for youth and adults – in one of the most underserved communities in Flint,” said Isaiah Oliver, president and CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “Investing in our youth through two-generation literacy programs increases educational mobility of Flint youth. And involving our youth in the development of the “Start Your Impossible” libraries, alongside Toyota volunteers, provides valuable hands-on experience.”

Food Gatherers: Summer Food Program
Food Gatherers is the food bank and food rescue program serving Washtenaw County by providing almost 6.5 million pounds of food annually to 170 organizations and programs addressing food insecurity in our community. Toyota has committed to taking on the entire Food Gatherers Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for this upcoming summer. The program will provide meals to 1,500 food-insecure Washtenaw County students each weekday at 37 sites, and with Toyota’s funding, will expand to support the students’ families with distributions of fresh produce and groceries.  Taken together, the support will enable increased social and educational mobility by relieving families of the burden of food insecurity.

“We are so grateful for this collaboration with Toyota,” said Eileen Spring, CEO, Food Gatherers. “This funding allows us to expand the number of SFSP sites, serve more children, and incorporate parent meals and grocery distributions into the program. Because of Toyota’s investment, hungry children and families in our community will have access to nutritious meals throughout the summer.”

Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley: Rebuild A Community
Building on a relationship that began in 2007, Toyota and Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley completed the full renovation of two houses, bringing the total number of houses Toyota has helped rebuild in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to 15. To date, Toyota has given more than $450,000 to the organization and Toyota team members have volunteered roughly 15,000 hours. Over the years, Toyota has seen the neighborhood improve in home value, safety and neighborhood investment.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Toyota is one of our organization’s most significant relationships,” said Sarah Stanton, executive director, Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley. “Not only does Toyota provide tremendous financial support and an incredible volume of volunteerism, but they are invested in our organization with senior leaders that participate on our board of directors and committees, helping us steer and grow the organization to have a greater impact in Washtenaw County.”

Huron River Watershed Council: Environmental STEM Education
The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) works to protect and restore the river to promote a healthy community. It will expand to offer environmental STEM programing with integrated learning across classroom activities and state standards through place-based, hands-on learning. Over 1500 high school students from 15 schools across Southeast Michigan will participate in the STEM program and river water cleanup in the 2019-2020 school year. Students will learn freshwater science, including how to test for water quality indicators in their home streams, applying lessons from math, biology, ecology, chemistry. The program will also offer students opportunities to snorkel in the river to collect scientific data alongside professionals. Ultimately, this program will help students understand the importance of river health and what they can do to improve and protect it.

“We have our eye on the next generation,” said Laura Rubin, executive director, HRWC. “With Toyota’s support, HRWC’s programs to educate, engage, and inspire youth and students will grow and expand even further, developing Southeast Michigan’s future STEM leaders and river stewards.”

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 38 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold 2.8 million cars and trucks (2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2018.

Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit

Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D) aims to redefine next-generation cars as not simply a form of transportation, but as a fully connected vehicle. In fact, Toyota is the leader in automotive patents, including autonomous vehicle patents (over 2,000). Centered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Toyota puts the brightest thinkers from across America together to focus on letting people live more safely and comfortably. Globally, Toyota spends approximately $1 million per hour on R&D to ensure that Toyota rapidly and continuously develops cutting-edge, high-quality, and appealing vehicles.

For more information on how Toyota serves its communities please visit:

About Community Foundation of Greater Flint
The Community Foundation of Greater Flint serves the common good in Genesee County—building a strong community by engaging people in philanthropy and developing the community’s permanent endowment—now and for generations to come. CFGF helps donors support the causes they care about, today or through their estates. Since 1988 the Community Foundation has granted more than $124 million to nonprofit organizations to build a thriving community. CFGF serves Flint and all of Genesee County including its community funds in Clio, Davison, Fenton, Flushing and Grand Blanc. Its supporting organization, the Foundation for Flint, stewards the Flint Child Health and Development Fund in response to the Flint Water Crisis.

About FIRST® in Michigan
FIRST in Michigan is a not-for-profit organization created in 1994 to give more Michigan students access to FIRST’s competitive robotics programs. FIRST combines the excitement of a sport with hands-on training to help students discover how rewarding a career in science, technology, and skilled trades can be. Unlike other sports, every student on a FIRST team can turn pro. FIRST in Michigan operates four FIRST programs: high school FIRST Robotics Competition, middle school FIRST Tech Challenge, upper elementary FIRST LEGO League and K-3 FIRST LEGO LEAGUE Jr. FIRST in Michigan leads the nation in the number of high school teams. Ultimately, our goal is to strengthen the school to STEM career pipeline giving every student access to FIRST whether from a large, small, rural, urban or suburban school.

About Food Gatherers
Food Gatherers’ mission is to alleviate hunger and eliminate its root causes in Washtenaw County. As the food bank and food rescue program for the county, we distribute 6.3 million pounds of food to 170 non-profit programs including pantries, grocery distributions, meal programs, and the Community Kitchen in the Delonis Center. Food Gatherers provides enough food for more than 14,500 meals every day for the 1 in 7 residents of Washtenaw County who do not have enough to eat (approximately 14% of the population). To learn more about our partner programs or how you can become involved in the fight against hunger locally, please visit

About Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley
Established in 1989, Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley works to enrich Washtenaw County through a legacy of affordable homeownership for families and individuals of low income. Each year, Habitat serves or assists more than 1,000 families and individuals through its Home Ownership Program, Home Improvement Program, Veterans Program, Financial Education and Community Development Program. Habitat has built or renovated more than 200 homes and served or assisted more than 5,000 households in Washtenaw County. For more information, visit

About Huron River Watershed Council
The Huron River Watershed Council is a nonprofit coalition of local communities, businesses, and residents established in 1965 to protect and restore the river for healthy and vibrant communities. Services include hands-on citizen education, technical assistance in policy development, and river protection and monitoring projects.

Praveena Ramaswami
[email protected]


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