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GM Student Corps Brightens Neighborhoods and Futures


DETROIT -- August 22, 2014: The second GM Student Corps ended today 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.”

One hundred and six paid high school interns representing 12 schools, including the seven schools GM supports through the United Way Network of Excellence and Flint Southwestern Academy – new to the program this year – 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.

Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development, introduced the GM Student Corps last summer.

“Programs such as this show how we can give back to our communities while empowering our young people to succeed in the future,” he said. “It’s a summer internship with lifelong benefits for all.”

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.

"As a university located in the city of Detroit, we’re honored to partner with General Motors on a program that not only invests in our city but in our young people – it’s an excellent model of how intergenerational leadership and service can benefit the entire region,” said UDM President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi.

“We’re here to get the best out of students and we love watching them grow,” said GM retiree Dawin Wright, whose team met with the owners of two vehicle dealerships, a former GMAC executive and a financial planner so they could experience the benefits of education and hard work.

Geneva Brooks spent her second summer as a GM Student Corps intern. She recently graduated from Cody High School in Detroit, where her team helped revitalize one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

“It’s not just the program – the retirees stay in touch with us,” said Brooks. “We have lots of deep conversations about what’s going on in our lives.”