INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) made the first-ever commitment of $1 million in annual support in the history of the National FFA Foundation (formerly the Future Farmers of America). In 2007, Ford Motor Company will provide substantial support for the 80th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis and the FFA Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition, Ford has committed to a tenth year of supporting the Built Ford Tough collegiate scholarship program, which will award up to 700 FFA members with a $1,000 college scholarship in 2007. Ben Poore, Ford Truck Group marketing manager, made the commitment at the 79th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis: "This commitment builds on almost six decades of Ford support of the FFA. Ford continues to support the FFA because we see a clear value in the organization's development of the future leaders of American agriculture, businesses and communities." Ford has supported the National FFA Foundation since the first F-Series truck was introduced in 1948, and has sponsored the Built Ford Tough collegiate scholarship program since 1997. The program, equally funded by Ford Motor Company and Ford dealers, has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to more than 3,000 FFA members. "We are thrilled to welcome Ford as our first million-dollar annual sponsor, and as FFA's premier sponsor for 2007," says Jan Ferris, FFA Marketing and Sales Development manager. "Ford has a long history of supporting the organization, and is already the largest contributor of scholarships to the FFA. With this generous commitment, Ford will continue to positively impact the lives of FFA members." For Ford, supporting the FFA offers two distinct benefits. First, Ford truck sales are inextricably connected to the success of the agricultural industry. Just as agriculture is the largest employer in the U.S., F-Series is the best-selling pickup in America -- for 29 consecutive years. "Visit any local farm or the national FFA convention, and you can see that trucks -- particularly F-Series -- play an integral role in the agricultural industry," says Poore. "Ultimately, a part of Ford Truck's success -- and our 29 years of sales leadership -- is tied to the success of agriculture. We want to help these future leaders to succeed, and to become our customers from the start of their careers to the end -- just like many of their parents and grandparents." The second benefit of Ford's long-standing support of the National FFA Foundation and collegiate scholarship program is the strong, lasting relationships it fosters between these future agribusiness leaders and both the Ford brand and their local Ford dealer. Each Built Ford Tough scholarship is equally funded by Ford Motor Company and Ford dealers who sponsor scholarships through their local high school FFA chapter. Members submit their scholarship application to the chapter's sponsoring dealer for approval before the applications are sent to the national FFA office for final judging and selection. As a result, the FFA members get to personally meet -- and thank -- the dealer that is helping fund their college education. "We have been part of the program since it started," says Mike Meurer, general manager of Southway Ford in San Antonio, "and have stacks of letters from FFA members, thanking us for the help to fulfill their goals. Those relationships have led to sales, both from the students' parents and from students buying their first new car or truck out of college. But, the biggest benefit for us is the satisfaction of getting to know these amazing kids, and helping them to become stand-up citizens."
SOURCE Ford Motor Company