Giving Back

You know who we are by the difference we make.

In every community where we work and live, we take our responsibilities as citizens very seriously. We welcome the opportunity to make a difference.

American values like respect for hard work, diversity, social responsibility and active sustainability are integral characteristics of our company culture. We renew our commitment each day through our corporate programs and employee involvement.

We’re a responsible partner — on the road and in your neighborhood.

Within the many art museums of the Smithsonian Institution, new exhibits by the masters are almost an everyday occurrence. But a unique exhibit featuring the work of artists with disabilities recently opened thanks to the work of VSA – The International Organization on Arts and Disability. An international nonprofit organization founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, VSA offers people with disabilities the opportunity to learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts. For nine years, Volkswagen Group of America has partnered with VSA to recognize these emerging and accomplished artists, reflecting our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and our support of the visual and performing arts.

Jim and Sharon Forsythe, parents of VSA artist, Daniel, comment, “Drawing and painting have been Daniel’s daily experience since he was three years old. As a person with Down Syndrome, Daniel lives with moderate mental retardation; he is unable to read or write except at the most rudimentary levels. Daniel also has a speech impairment, which makes communication difficult. But Daniel’s disabilities end where his art begins. He views the blank page without fear or paralyzing self-analysis. He works with joy and confidence because he loves painting and drawing, creating worlds filled with beauty, adventure and exquisite proportion. Daniel’s self-assurance has blossomed since winning his VSA award. He understands the magnitude of that honor. We are grateful to VSA for recognizing what we have always known: Daniel’s artistic voice communicates while spoken words fail him. It is very gratifying to see Daniel have an opportunity to transcend his handicaps through others’ appreciation of his artwork.”

Award-winning drawing created by Daniel Forsythe

Daniel Forsythe is one of the many VSA artists


The Vehicle Terrain Performance Lab at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) received the first Volkswagen Faculty Innovation Grant in 2010. The lab’s mission is to improve vehicle system performance by studying the interactions between vehicles and terrain. Selected from five proposals submitted by Virginia Tech, Dr. John B. Ferris, associate professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, and his students will focus on developing modeling and simulation techniques for “Location-Aware Adaptation of Vehicle Dynamics” under the year-long grant. Dr. Ferris conducted research in vehicle dynamics and chassis development in the automotive industry for 15 years before becoming a faculty member at Virginia Tech. Read more »


Dr. Shirley C. Raines, President of the University of Memphis

Shirley C. Raines, President of the University of Memphis, comments about the University’s partnership with Volkswagen Group of America.

“Although our efforts on behalf of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education are already robust, the gift from Volkswagen Group of America makes it possible for our faculty to increase their work in introducing even more students, as well as other teachers, to those subjects.”


Congratulations to this year’s participants in the Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program! Only a few select students from Fisk University are awarded the opportunity to intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations. As part of this two-summer experience, students have access to state-of-the-art scientific facilities and equipment and complete research projects in automotive innovation. Visit for more information.

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Jennifer Lewis, a student from University of Tennessee, participates in the Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program at Oak Ridge National Lab

Undergraduate and graduates students, like Jennifer Lewis from the University of Tennessee, participate in cutting-edge automotive research projects under the mentorship of top engineers and scientists though the Volkswagen Distinguished Scholars Program. The summer research internships are offered to students from five select Tennessee universities in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With her research project, “The Perennial Question: Farmers’ Choices and the Biofuel Future,” Jennifer joined ten other distinguished scholars for the hands-on learning experience that also included weekly brown bag scientific seminars, a trip to our Chattanooga assembly plant and regular meetings with Volkswagen executives. “It’s been very interesting. I spend most of my day in the lab – which is a lot more fun than sitting in front of the computer.” The competitive application process begins the fall of each year.


When Marcus Robinson first tried to enroll at The Excel Institute, a provider of vocational training for at-risk youth and adults, he was told he would have to wait three months. The then 31-year-old told educators at the automotive training facility that he needed to start immediately — because he probably wouldn’t be alive in three months. “I was a hoodlum,” Robinson explained, “The things I was involved in, I would not have been around.” Today, Robinson is an automotive instructor at The Excel Institute. His life is moving in a completely different direction, and he credits Volkswagen Group of America for playing a major role in educating his own students. To date, our support has enabled 225 students to participate in the institute’s life skills program. Read more »