GM Student Corps Inspire Communities and Themselves

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Program wrap-up focuses on the power of service, education and mentoring

DETROIT--August 16, 2013: General Motors executives, University of Detroit Mercy administrators and GM Student Corps members today gathered at UDM’s McNichols campus to celebrate the conclusion of the GM Student Corps internship program.

Introduced in May, the program provided 108 Detroit-area high school students the opportunity to give back to their neighborhoods, working together on community service projects they planned and executed themselves. Sixty GM retirees and 11 GM student interns from UDM mentored the high-schoolers, who attend 11 United Way Network of Excellence Schools.

The GM Student Corps tackled community park cleanup, park and athletic field restoration, building repairs and painting among other projects, learning teamwork, leadership skills and developing 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 led the retiree mentors, traversing the city and watching the students’ progress.

“The transformation was amazing,” said DiGiovanni. “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. The retirees are incredibly impressed with the students, and have forged close bonds with them this summer.”

So far, students have 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 is Aug. 22.

For many of the high-schoolers the GM internship was their first paying job. The comprehensive program also provided students with sessions on life skills topics such as decision making, communicating, 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 the University of Detroit Mercy. The students spent Thursday at the UDM campus, where they spoke to professors and administrators about educational and career opportunities.

UDM Communication Studies Professor Jason Roche and four UDM student videographers, who also served as GM summer interns, chronicled the teams’ experiences in a 60-minute documentary; the first clip debuted at the Aug. 15 event. Next week, the student teams will formally present their programs and results to Reuss and his staff.

Additionally, more than 120 GM employees joined students at various project sites to lend a helping hand throughout the summer.

The GM Student Corps included students from 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.

The schools selected participants based on leadership potential, overall energy, enthusiasm and grit, school activities, citizenship and academic performance.

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