Last summer, General Motors introduced its GM Student Corps, a summer program that pays high school students to perform different maintenance tasks around various Michigan communities. The second year of the Student Corps ended yesterday, which saw students clean parks and schools, clear bush, plant flowers and shrubs, paint weather-beaten outdoor equipment and perform other improvement tasks.
“Last year, we were very focused on the task, getting the job done,” said retired GM employee Deborah Eastern-Hall, who spent the 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.”
This year the program took under 106 high school students from 12 different schools, including from the seven schools GM supports through the United Way Network of Excellence and the Flint Southwestern Academy. In addition to performing maintenance work, the students also participated in weekly life skills training sessions, toured different GM facilities, explored their career opportunities and spent a day at University of Detroit Mercy.
The program was introduced last year by head of GM’s global product development, purchasing and supply chain operations. Reuss says the program allows GM to give back to the community and help guide local kids towards a bright future.
“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.”
Many of the mentors for the Student Corps are volunteer GM retirees, like Mike DiGiovanni, who says retirees get as much out of the mentoring relationships they develop over the summer as the students do. The students also appreciate the mentoring relationships and having somone with more lfie experience than them to talk to, said Geneva Brooks, a high-school senior who participated in both of the Student Corps programs.
“It’s not just the program – the retirees stay in touch with us,” Brooks said. “We have lots of deep conversations about what’s going on in our lives.”