DETROIT–Introduced in May 2013, GM Student Corps continued this summer with 106 Detroit-area and Flint students from 12 high schools with paid internships and the opportunity to give back to their neighborhoods.
They spent the summer cleaning parks and schools, clearing bush, planting flowers and shrubs, painting weather-beaten equipment and tackling other improvement projects they selected, planned and budgeted. They also took part in weekly life skills training sessions, toured GM facilities and businesses, explored career opportunities and spent a day at University of Detroit Mercy.
“Programs such as this show how we can give back to our communities while empowering our young people to succeed in the future,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development. “It’s a summer internship with lifelong benefits for all.”
The second GM Student Corps ended as General Motors executives, GM retiree mentors and GM student interns gathered to celebrate their summer of community revitalization. For many students and retirees, though, it’s only the beginning of new relationships aimed at helping students develop the teamwork and leadership skills to continue their success.
“Last year, we were very focused on the task, getting the job done,” said GM retiree Deborah Eastern-Hall of Toledo, who spent her second summer at Osborn High School in Detroit. “This year, we spent more personal time with the students. At lunch, I’d launch the discussion – topics like the importance of having good credit, finding a home and getting a job – and the students talked as long as we let them.”
Of the 2013 GM Student Corps interns who were seniors, it’s estimated about a third are attending college. According to Mike DiGiovanni, a GM retiree and UDM economics professor who helped run the program both years, most of the 2014 class is college-bound and some are already dual-enrolled.
DiGiovanni, who with retired GM executive Larry Hice led the 58 retiree mentors and volunteers, said the retirees get as much out of the mentoring relationships as the students. Thirteen UDM students also hired as GM summer interns provided additional guidance and project support.
Student Corps in Detroit is an extension of GM’s partnership with United Way’s Network of Excellence Schools. General Motors hopes to continue this successful program for years to come.