GM Student Corps Adds Pontiac High in 2015

130 students from 13 schools revitalize their communities, develop leadership skills
Jun 24, 2015 9:30 AM ET

DETROIT, June 24, 2015 /3BL Media/ – General Motors announced today that Pontiac High School will join the 2015 GM Student Corps this summer, for a total of 130 students from 13 schools in Metro Detroit and Flint.

Student Corps provides high school students with paid internships and the opportunity to give back to their neighborhoods through community improvement projects they plan and complete. The program unites people of all ages and backgrounds toward a common goal – improving under-served and deeply distressed communities – while helping students develop valuable skills.

“One by one, Student Corps is changing the equation that defines these young lives,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “For many students, this internship is their first job, addressing an immediate financial need while putting them on a path to success.”

In 2015, 55 GM retirees, 14 college interns from the University of Detroit Mercy and the University of Michigan-Flint, and countless GM volunteers will mentor the 130 students, providing job training and college preparation, professional and career development and leadership and life lessons. 

“GM Student Corps shows the tremendous impact companies can make by harnessing the power of their retirees and employees to mentor young people,” said Heidi Magyar, director of GM’s new community outreach group. “The program helps build communities with a ‘lead where you are’ mindset that instills teamwork, determination and pride in themselves and their communities.”

Students learn independence, project management and leadership skills by selecting, planning, budgeting and completing the projects themselves. Students work three days a week for nine weeks, and will present their results to Reuss and his staff in mid-August.

Last week, the teams kicked off projects to make their communities safer, more welcoming, and better places to live and learn, including park and athletic field cleanup and restoration, painting, landscaping, school building repairs and more. This summer, teams also will develop plans to donate several hundred One World Futbols – ultra-durable soccer balls that never need a pump or go flat, even when punctured. Chevrolet is the founding sponsor of One World Play Project, creator of the One World Futbol.

Last year’s teams renovated 15 schools and 17 parks. They removed 1,844 bags of trash, spread 208 yards of mulch, used 157 gallons of paint, refurbished 232 fire hydrants, and constructed over 300 benches and picnic tables. The program created a lasting ripple effect: Neighborhood residents volunteered their time on project sites, mayors and city councils supported projects to ensure the renovations were maintained, and city employees lent their time and equipment.

Additionally, retiree and college mentors have remained connected to the students with regular check-ins, report card reviews, even joining them on college visits.  They’ve helped students find employment, assisted with college applications and attended graduation ceremonies.

Student Corps also includes weekly life skills sessions to prepare and equip students for adulthood. Topics include personal finance, banking and budgeting, decision making, effective communication and conflict resolution, health and safety, applying to college, and job interviewing. Teams also tour GM facilities and spend a day at University of Detroit Mercy.

The 2015 schools include Central Collegiate Academy, Detroit Public Schools Cody Campus, East Detroit High School, Flint Southwestern Academy, Hamtramck High School, Harper Woods High School, Henry Ford High School, Madison High School, Melvindale High School, Detroit Public Schools Osborn Campus, Pontiac High School, River Rouge High School and Van Dyke Lincoln High School. Schools select the students based on leadership potential, dedication, determination, school activities, citizenship and academic performance.

The GM-sponsored program is an extension of the GM United Way Network of Excellence. A 2010 GM Foundation grant of $27.1 million to United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the largest in its history, has helped raise graduation rates at seven Detroit-area high schools from 50 percent to nearly 80 percent.

Student Corps is one of many GM programs designed to keep southeastern Michigan students engaged during the summer. The GM Foundation also supports the Forgotten Harvest Million Meal Challenge with a $50,000 grant, which provides sack lunches for kids who rely on the school lunch assistance program. It also sponsors Reading and Rhythm on the Riverfront, beginning July 9, in which kids ages 3-10 are invited to the Detroit Riverfront each Thursday and Friday to see live entertainment, hear a story read by a local celebrity and receive a free book.

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