Press Release

February 11, 2019

The Henry Ford Announces William Davidson Foundation Initiative for Entrepreneurship

(Dearborn, Mich. – Feb. 11, 2019) – The Henry Ford announced today the launch of the William Davidson Foundation Initiative for Entrepreneurship, made possible by a $1.5 million grant, that allows the institution to provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with hands-on learning opportunities. This initiative includes an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, a public speaker series featuring influencers in entrepreneurship, workshops and the expansion of youth programming that leverages the institution’s Archive of American Innovation to create a deep and engaging understanding of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship from a young age. 

The initiative will work to strengthen the institution’s existing youth programming, the Michigan Invention Convention and the National Invention Convention, and connect youth inventors with seasoned entrepreneurs from Detroit, Southeast Michigan and around the country. It also provides additional funding for the institution’s existing project to digitize more of its collections, specifically related to entrepreneurship, including creating more video content for its “Visionaries on Innovation” series and funding to begin design of physical work/collaboration spaces in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

“Inspiring future innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs is at the core of The Henry Ford’s mission,” said Patricia Mooradian, president & CEO of The Henry Ford, “It defines the unique role we can play in building a healthier entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city of Detroit and in the southeast Michigan region.”

The Henry Ford will welcome Melvin Parson, founder of We The People Growers Association (WTPGA) in Ypsilanti, as its inaugural Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR). As an urban farmer, social justice and equality activist, Parson founded WTPGA to empower people to make a positive contribution to their community through education and positive social networks using gardening and farming as the vehicle for change. He will use the four working farms in Greenfield Village as a learning lab for teaching teens in the program and will also work as part of The Henry Ford’s team on the development of future agriculturally focused programming for the museum.

“Entrepreneurs help to shape the culture and economy of any region,” said Darin McKeever, president and CEO, William Davidson Foundation. “Our state and our country’s future are therefore bound up with our ability to inspire and support those emerging entrepreneurs- wherever they might live, work or go to school. We are thrilled to support The Henry Ford as it explores ways to spark the next startup or speed the next invention.” 

The Henry Ford will select two entrepreneurs-in-residence per year, each serving a six-month residency. These influencers will have access to the institution’s collection and conduct workshops for youth and emerging entrepreneurs in the areas of agriculture and the environment, mobility, power & energy, information & communication, social transformation and design & making.

In addition, the institution is pleased to welcome its first speaker in the initiative, Lauren Bush Lauren. Lauren founded FEED in 2007 after seeing the reality of childhood hunger firsthand while traveling with the World Food Programme. She created the first FEED Bag as a tangible way for her peers to get involved. To this day, every product her company makes has a number on it, representing the school meals donated with its purchase. Tickets for Lauren Bush Lauren are $40 and include a FEED Bag. Remarks begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 313-982-6001.

The William Davidson Foundation has been a consistent supporter of The Henry Ford since 2012, making possible the opening of the Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and the Davidson-Gerson Gallery of Glass in Greenfield Village. Its overall support for innovation-related programming includes helping launch The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, the Emmy-award-winning television show.

The initiative is part of The Innovation Project, a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign from the institution, to build digital and experiential learning tools, programs and initiatives to advance innovation, invention and entrepreneurship.

For more details on specific programs and initiatives comprising The Innovation Project, visit

About The Henry Ford
Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford, a globally-recognized destination, fosters inspiration and learning from hands-on encounters with artifacts that represent the most comprehensive collection anywhere focusing on innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness in America. Its unique venues include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school. Together with its online presence at, its national television programs, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and Did I Mention Invention? and other resources, The Henry Ford helps individuals of all kinds to unlock their potential and help shape a better future. The Henry Ford advanced its role as a catalyst for change in education with the acquisition of The STEMIE Coalition, a growing affiliation of organizations dedicated to fostering innovation, invention and entrepreneurship in students, K-12. With STEMIE, The Henry Ford hosts the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) and makes innovation learning curriculum accessible to educators and students worldwide.

About the William Davidson Foundation
The William Davidson Foundation is a private family foundation that honors its founder and continues his lifelong commitment to philanthropy, advancing for future generations the economic, cultural and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community. For more information, visit