Ford announces expansion of philanthropic efforts to Central Ky.

FRANKFORT — Ford Motor Company announced Monday that a major philanthropic initiative originally slated for Louisville will expand to Lexington and Central Kentucky.

Jay Morgan, regional director of corporate and government affairs for Ford, announced Monday that Operation Goodwill, a philanthropic effort that Ford has initiated in several cities with close Ford ties, will now include Central Kentucky. Morgan said that in its first year, Operation Goodwill has led an initiative to study gaps in technical education in the Jefferson County Public School system and has given grant money to organizations such as Dare to Care and Home of the Innocents. In its first year in Louisville, the organization has donated more than $1.2 million.

Morgan said Monday that it's not clear how much money Operation Goodwill will receive for the entire region. Those numbers are still being worked out, Morgan said. "It will be in the millions," Morgan said.

The announcement came before the quarterly meeting of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, or BEAM, board. The board, started by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, is developing a strategic plan to better connect the Louisville and Lexington manufacturing community. Monday's announcement by Ford is a key way that the two areas can be better served by working together, Fischer said.

Morgan also pointed out that many of Ford's suppliers are in Central Kentucky. It made sense to broaden Ford's philanthropic arm to parts of Kentucky where Ford has so many partners, Morgan said.