Toyota awards impact grants to three Washtenaw County nonprofits

Toyota is awarding $100,000 impact grants to three Washtenaw County-based nonprofit organizations through its first Drive4Five grantmaking campaign.


The local grantees are Food Gatherers, Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, and Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC). Outside Washtenaw County, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and FIRST Robotics' statewide program will also receive $100,000 grants, rounding out Drive4Five's inaugural cohort of five grantees.


Toyota has committed to taking on the entire Food Gatherers Summer Food Service Program for this summer. The program will provide meals to 1,500 food-insecure Washtenaw County students each weekday at 37 sites. With Toyota’s funding, the program will also expand to support the students’ families with distributions of fresh produce and groceries.


In addition to providing direct financial assistance, employees at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development in Ann Arbor and Toyota's Saline-based research facilities will also contribute volunteer hours.


Toyota will continue to participate in Habitat's efforts to build and renovate homes in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. It will also work with HRWC to expand the nonprofit's environmental STEM programming. More than 1,500 high school students from 15 schools across southeast Michigan will participate in HRWC's STEM and river cleanup programs next school year.


The two grants outside Washtenaw County will offer support to existing middle and high school FIRST Robotics teams, and establish two community libraries at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village in north Flint.


"We really want to refocus our funding and outreach on how it relates to our pillars: safety, economic and physical mobility, STEM education, and environmental sustainability," says Praveena Ramaswami, Toyota community relations representative. "(Toyota) wants to bring awareness. … We don't want to just write a check and walk away. We're asking (ourselves), how can we help fill gaps that nonprofit organizations are facing?"


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at


Photo courtesy of Toyota.