Rakeem FordGrants Manager

Rakeem Ford

Originally from Wellington, FL (West Palm Beach), Rakeem Ford (he/him) now lives and works in Orange City, FL (Orlando, FL), on Seminole, Miccosukee, and Mascogo lands.

Rakeem joined River Network in 2024. As River Network’s Grants Manager, Rakeem coordinates monthly budgets, ensures projects are not overextended, and primarily collaborates with the financial team to manage River Network’s work as a National Pass-Through Partner for USDA/USFS’s Urban & Community Forestry program.

Rakeem holds an MBA from Florida A&M University. His professional background includes working with Ernst & Young, one of the Big 4 accounting firms, in their Governmental & Public Policy Department. There, he was responsible for drafting, managing, and awarding federal contracts with FEMA, totaling $25 million.

Outside of work, Rakeem is adventurous and loves to travel to new places, recently riding in a hot air balloon in Phoenix, Arizona, overlooking the mountains.


Which River Network value most speaks to you?

Balance is a core value that resonates with me because it promotes harmony between work, personal life, and well-being. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy equilibrium, which fosters productivity, creativity, and overall satisfaction both professionally and personally. This value encourages a sustainable approach to achieving goals while prioritizing self-care and holistic success.

Why is equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) important in your work?

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are crucial in my role as a grant manager and financial professional, especially given recent statewide bans on DEI efforts in Florida. It’s essential to ensure that all diverse applicants are informed about and have equal access to USDA funding earmarked for various initiatives. Promoting EDI not only fosters fairness and inclusivity but also enhances the effectiveness and impact of our grant management efforts across diverse communities.

What was your earliest memory around water?

My earliest memory around water dates back to my childhood in Florida, where water is an integral part of our community. I fondly remember going to the beach with my family, and it was there that my dad emphasized the importance of water safety to me and my older brother. His guidance instilled in me a deep respect for water and nature.