This summer, 110 Detroit-area high school students will work alongside GM retirees, interns and employees to help clean up Detroit, do service projects and learn how to lead and succeed.
They’re part of a GM paid summer intern program called GM Student Corps. Guided by 60 GM retirees, 12 GM student interns from the University of Detroit Mercy and employee volunteers from teamGM Cares, the Detroit students will pitch in to improve neighborhoods as they learn the value of volunteerism and valuable life skills. The program begins in mid-June and runs through August.
The collaborative teams will work in groups of 10 to develop and implement the service projects. Every aspect from budgeting to planning to implementation is in their hands. Students from 11 United Way Network of Excellence Schools are represented and will gain life skill training through a curriculum developed by Junior Achievement.
General Motors North America President Mark Reuss championed the program and the value of service.
“Improving the quality of life in our communities means more than writing a check,” he said. “It also requires investing in our young people, teaching them how good it feels to see their hard work help others and providing them with the skills they need to lead and succeed as professionals and as citizens. Once you serve, you’re hooked for life.”
Students were chosen based on leadership potential, overall energy, enthusiasm, participation in school activities, citizenship and academic performance. At the end of the summer, leaders from each student team will formally present their programs and results to Reuss and his staff. In addition, the GM Summer Corps experience will be chronicled in a documentary film put together by U of D Mercy Professor Jason Roche.
Donniqua Alexander, a junior at Cody and a GM Corps member was told about the program by her high school counselor. She decided to apply and was accepted. Alexander plans to attend Michigan State University to eventually become an entertainment lawyer and sees this as great experience to add to her resume and help her with life-long skills
“I love giving back to my community,” she said. “This are a lot of people and resources coming together to make a difference.”
She and her other nine team members have decided to work on Stein Playground in Detroit. All of the fix-up, cleanup and hard work will mean a much-improved public space by the end of the summer. Her team, made up of students from three of the Cody Campus schools, will also support churches in the area of the playground, as well as helping other teams with their projects as time allows.
Besides funding the student projects, GM are providing Chevrolet Express vans and Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickups so adult mentors can transport materials and students to project sites and life skills classes.
Former GM executive Mike DiGiovanni is leading the retirees helping out on the project. He grew up on the city’s west side and is now a full-time professor of economics at U of D Mercy.
“As retirees, we look forward to joining forces with current company leaders as a unified GM to effect meaningful change in Detroit,” he said. “But most of all, we want this program to be rewarding, fun and life-changing for the students.
“These students are going to work about 10 hours, three days a week out in the community. At the end of the summer, we want these young people to have had a positive, meaningful and life-changing experience. That’s what it is all about,” he said.
The 10-hour days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are not all sweat and work. Students will also get life, health and career exposure through visits to a number
Throughout the summer, students will be encouraged to document their projects on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #GMStudentCorps. And gm.com/student-corps will update the latest on Student Corps activities throughout the summer.
Schools participating in the GM Student Corps are Central Collegiate Academy, Detroit Public Schools Cody Campus, East Detroit High School, Hamtramck High School, Harper Woods High School, Henry Ford High School, Madison High School, Melvindale High School, Detroit Public Schools Osborn Campus, River Rouge High School and Van Dyke Lincoln High School.