The Education Fund is teaming up with Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Argo AI to ensure students in Miami-Dade County receive fresh produce and school supplies during distance learning.
A Miami non-profit is spearheading a pilot collaboration to provide autonomous deliveries of fresh food and school supplies to students in Miami-Dade County who are studying at home during the pandemic.
The Education Fund has teamed with Ford Autonomous Vehicles, its self-driving technology partner Argo AI, and philanthropic arm Ford Motor Company Fund, to make safe, contactless deliveries in Ford’s Fusion hybrid self-driving test vehicles.
Ford is currently building a self-driving service in Miami-Dade for ride-hailing and goods delivery and offered to help make deliveries to students’ homes through this pilot programme.
Before Covid-19, the Education Fund distributed produce from its “Food Forest” programme at 26 schools in Miami-Dade and gave away millions of free classroom materials from its school supply warehouse.
Students would take bags filled with fresh produce and supplies home weekly. With the pandemic leaving many students learning from home, the Education Fund said it was looking for a variety of ways to provide supplies to students and their families safely.
“Ford saw an opportunity to broaden a critical supply pipeline to students,” said Linda Lecht, president of the Education Fund. “The deliveries ensure low-income students have nutritious food and the learning materials they need, even at home.”
Over an eight-week period, the Ford and Argo AI team is making weekly contactless deliveries of supplies to the families of approximately 50 students attending Fienberg-Fisher K-8 in Miami Beach and Riverside Elementary School in Little Havana.
After the Ford and Argo AI team collects the bags at each school, the deliveries are made in its self-driving test vehicles with two trained test specialists supervising proceedings. In addition to supporting the Education Fund and the community, the combined team expects to also develop key learnings through this pilot as it builds its self-driving service for Miamians.
The Ford Motor Company Fund reports it has long played an essential role in helping the Education Fund innovate to help support student success. Its mission is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better by providing access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential.
“Ford Fund is proud to once again partner with the Education Fund. The opportunity to leverage Ford AV technology to assist families during Covid-19 is critical as we look to provide mobility and social solutions in our communities,” added Joe Avila, manager US and Latin America, Ford Motor Company Fund.
“Since 2009, Ford Fund, in partnership with our Ford dealers, has invested more than $8m in Miami with efforts focused on education, disaster relief and social entrepreneurship.”