The GM Foundation strives to make important progress in four key focus areas: education, health and human services, the environment and energy and community development. I’d like to share with you a few highlights of our work over the past year.
In 2011, we ramped up our efforts to make a difference in education. We furthered our commitment to students by making the largest grant in the GM Foundation’s history -- $27.1 million to the United Way of Southeastern Michigan to create “Networks of Excellence” at seven metro Detroit high schools. The investment has created smaller classrooms, more personalized attention for high school students and early learning centers for children up to age 5 to ensure they are prepared for first grade. The goal of this effort is to increase graduation rates by 20 percent over the next several years. In doing so, we will help ready today’s students for tomorrow’s leadership roles, and provide Michigan with a highly qualified future workforce.
We also awarded more than $4 million in scholarships to 1,100 high school students across the United States through our inaugural Buick Achievers scholarship program. We have received wonderful letters from our recipients telling us how important the scholarships were in helping them achieve their academic goals. In fact, some deserving students told us that they would not have been able to attend college without the program's support. Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Buick Achievers scholarship program. Visit www.BuickAchievers.com for more information.
As an automaker, we are very serious about the safety of all passengers. That is why our partnership with Safe Kids USA is very near and dear to our hearts. We have worked with the organization to promote pre-teen safe driving initiatives, we have made possible 1.3 million child safety seat inspections and the donation of 500,000 child safety seats, and we have expanded our hyperthermia education efforts, to name just a few initiatives.
General Motors manufactures cars and trucks in plants across the United States and over the past year has conducted open houses in these manufacturing facilities so that local community members can get to know the operations better. In line with this effort, we have granted $1 million to nonprofit organizations in the plant cities to provide assistance where it’s needed most.
Finally, the GM Foundation along with GM is proud to be the first and largest sponsor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which was recently unveiled in Washington D.C. Watching GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson speak at the ceremony was the proud culmination of a decade of our wonderful partnership with the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation. We look forward to continuing our support of the monument, and its message, for years to come.
In 2012 we will continue to share more news with you regarding our key partnerships and programs starting with the call for applications for the 2012 Buick Achievers Scholarship Program - I can't think of a better way to start the year! Until then, thank you for your interest in the GM Foundation. We hope you continue to visit our site to learn more about our efforts to make a positive difference in communities across the United States.
Vivian R. Pickard
President, General Motors Foundation