Introduced in May, the inaugural year of GM Student Corps gave 108 Detroit-area high school students the opportunity to give back to their neighborhoods. Sixty GM retirees and 11 GM student interns from the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) mentored the students as they worked together on community service projects.
The GM Student Corps tackled community park cleanup, park and athletic field restoration, building repairs and painting, among other projects. They learned teamwork and leadership skills and developed a deeper connection to their communities, and each other, along the way.
“The program is a wonderful way to show young people in our community the GM family cares about them and their future,” said Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice President and President North America. “It’s also a terrific example of how we can work together to improve our neighborhoods and change lives for the better.”
UDM economics professor and former GM executive Mike DiGiovanni, who led the retiree mentors said, “The transformation was amazing. The students did great work and grew immensely as people, more than they probably thought they would. They’re inspired by what they accomplished and the discipline and tenacity it took to do it. In turn, the communities were inspired by them and their work.”
Students refurbished eight Detroit-area parks, planted 425 trees, shrubs and flowers, laid 392 yards of mulch, applied 223 gallons of paint, disposed of 205 bags and 29 dumpsters of plant overgrowth and refuse, distributed 30,000 pounds of food via local hunger organizations and more. The last work day of the nine-week internship was August 22.
For many of the high school students, the GM internship was their first paying job. The comprehensive program also provided them with sessions on life skills topics, such as decision making, communication, career development, budgeting and banking, and health and safety.
Students also learned about various career paths during tours of Focus: HOPE, Junior Achievement, GM Design, the GM Heritage Center, the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and UDM. The students spent a day at the UDM campus, where they spoke to professors and administrators about educational and career opportunities.
General Motors plans to continue this successful program next year and for years to come.