Hyundai Shares the Love in a Meaningful Way … Through the Progress Project

Hyundai's Progress Project invests in communities where they operate by investing in small businesses. Here are this year's grantees, and how they'll in turn, invest in their communities

The Progress Project By Hyundai
The Progress Project by Hyundai launches for a third year to support Black-Owned businesses in Michigan. Photo: Teia Collier

Hyundai is Reinforcing its Communities Through Investment

For Hyundai, being a local employer and engaging a local supply network isn’t enough; directly injecting investment is important, to. So, the company created the Progress Project to invest in the communities that their facilities call home. For the last three years, Hyundai has quietly plugged in and gifted funds to local businesses that are doing the work of community building and restoring hope in areas that need a little extra love – to the tune of $15,000 per recipient. This February, Hyundai recognized three black-owned businesses and their contributions to the Detroit-area community.

I had the pleasure of venturing Hyundai’s new North American Safety and Test Investigation Laboratory in Superior Township to take part in the presentation. It was an early morning in the heart of winter, a layer of fog was lifting and banks of snow still lined the streets as we made our way to the still-under-construction campus. Nestled on the outskirts of town in a community of about 20,000, Hyundai’s new facility was abuzz with delight and the happy energy of people celebrating work done well.

The scent of coffee filled the air as guests and local leaders strolled around a concept Ioniq 5 and a burly, amped-up Santa Cruz, gathered to celebrate another first investment and cement a partnership between the Michigan community and the Korean automaker. As the ceremony drew on, it became clear that this investment was about more than money. It is about celebrating life, betting on a community, putting your money where your heart is, and publicly granting a vote of confidence.

Related: Bibbity Bobbity Boo! The Hyundai Ioniq 5 Disney100 Platinum Edition Is Here!

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Carmaker Isn’t Just about Engineering; It’s about Community

This year’s Progress Project recipients are from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, both near Detroit and just down the road from Hyundai’s new Safety Test and Investigation lab. The program, a smaller project born out of Hyundai’s larger global Progress for Humanity initiative, aims to scaffold companies that are directly impacting the communities where Hyundai has a presence.

Chief Executive Officer Randy Parker noted that “Hyundai is proud to celebrate Black History Month through the continuation of the Progress Project; (it) underscores our progress for humanity vision by directly investing in the people and places that also call Michigan home, and we look forward to watching 3N1 Fitness Revolution, A-Square Fight Club, and Issa’s Pizza continue to thrive in their local communities.”

“Thank you to Hyundai Motor Group for recognizing that our businesses need a little extra push.” Michigan State Representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr.

Related: I went to Korea and Discovered the Soul of Kia and Hyundai, Korea’s Car Kings

The Progress Project Hyundai Black History MonthBrandon Ramirez, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Hyundai with 3N1 Fitness Revolution owner Eddie Brooks. Photo: Hyundai

The Hyundai Progress Project Recipients Add Critical Value

Chosen for their impact on the community, tenacity, drive, and willingness to serve, these are the three grant winners:

3N1 Fitness Revolution

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 3N1 Fitness is a “multidimensional gym of holistic well-being where members can get physically, nutritionally, and mindfully fit.” Embracing the tenets of home and community development, 3N1 Fitness used the award from Hyundai to refresh their space and provide a fresh no look to the gym’s facilities. Eddie Brooks, 3N1 Fitness’ founder, also purchased a new sign and updated fitness equipment for its patrons to enjoy with the goal of ensuring the space maintains its role as a community hub and resource center at the forefront of community health.

“Thank you!  Thank you, thank you!  There is nothing better than when someone sees who you are and sees what you are doing. And the gym is very grateful!” Eddie Brooks, Founder, 3N1 Fitness

Related: The All-New Hyundai Santa Fe 3-Row SUV Is Boxy, Modern and We Love It

Hyundai Progress Project Black History Month

Brandon Ramirez, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Hyundai with Eric McGuire, owner of A-Square Fight Club. Photo: Hyundai

A-Square Fight Club

Answering the need for a place in Ann Arbor for teens and adults to belong and foster connections, Eric McGuire of A-Square Fight Club entered the space. His team created an “affordable boxing gym that focuses on the art, conditioning, and science behind training.”

Making good use of the donation from Hyundai, the gym made several much-needed repairs to the facility. The $15,000 allowed A-Square Fight Club to refresh the ring, refurbish some of the structural pieces, purchase new heavy bags for the client’s use, and infuse the gym with new life and feeding the hope that its programs provide.

Hyundai Progress Project Black History Month

Brandon Ramirez, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Hyundai, with Issa’s Pizza owner Omar Sowe. Photo: Hyundai

Issa’s Pizza

Calling Ypsilanti, Michigan home, Issa’s Pizza is a beloved establishment and the heartbeat of the community. Anchored in the diverse community that makes Ypsilanti shine, Issa’s Pizza serves up more than pizza, bringing smiles, hope, and encouragement to a hungry community.

Omar Sowe, founder of Issa’s Pizza, used the donation from Hyundai to purchase a new rapid cook oven and restore some of the interior spaces of the establishment that serve the homes and schools of the tight-knit community.

Related: Vision Zero: Hyundai Hope on Wheels Targets Ending Childhood Cancer

Hyundai Progress Project

The Hyundai Progress Project chooses highly worthy recipients. Photo: Hyundai

Creating Change, One Community at a Time

The Progress Project by Hyundai is part of the larger global vision of Progress for Humanity ushered in at the beginning of José Muñoz’s leadership of the Hyundai Motor Group. The audacious goal is to democratize safety, globally elevate the quality of life, and develop products and ecosystems that are intentionally climate-conscious and carbon-neutral. As an offshoot of that program, Progress Project deliberately engages and impacts the communities where Hyundai does business in a positive manner – by funding the passion, rather a compassion, for programs like the Progress Project, Genesis Gives, and Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels.

Other locations where Hyundai has funded projects include Montgomery, Alabama, and Savannah, Georgia. The October opening the lab in Michigan was a great opportunity to further the mission.

I look forward to seeing the progress of this year’s grantees, and where Hyundai next plants its money, and its heart.

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Teia Collier is a mother of three, educator, social journalist, advocate for women’s and children’s issues and lover of... More about Teia Collier