Akersons donate $1 million to Habitat for Humanity
Photo credit: GM
DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Dan Akerson and his wife, Karin, donated $1 million today to start a Habitat for Humanity initiative called Leaders to ReBuild Detroit.
“What we can do is a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done,” Akerson said in a speech to about 100 at a school in which the community to be funded resides. “That’s why we wanted to get involved with this $25 million initiative that Habitat for Humanity started. We wanted to give it a jump start because we wanted to help others.”
Dan Akerson maintains residences in both Detroit and Washington.
A press release by Habitat for Humanity Michigan said the initiative is a three-year, multimillion-dollar initiative designed to engage Detroit’s corporate leaders in revitalizing the city.
The project will serve at least 500 families in a Detroit neighborhood known as the Morningside Commons by 2014, Habitat for Humanity said.
As part of Habitat Michigan’s statewide $225 million campaign to provide housing, 200 families also will participate in financial literacy training, homeownership workshops and community security initiatives provided by partnering organizations.
Building a foundation
“We’re building more than just houses here -- we’re building a foundation,” Akerson said. “A foundation for a neighborhood to succeed and thrive, and if you do enough of it, what you’ll have is a community that thrives. With enough communities thriving, you get a city that thrives. And then a state, and then a nation, and then an economy.”
After his speech, Akerson spoke with reporters about what hit him the hardest when he came for a visit per the suggestion of Home Depot CEO Frank Blake’s wife, Liz Blake, who serves as general counsel of Habitat for Humanity according to an earlier report by the Detroit Free Press.
Akerson related driving around then to what he saw in East Berlin when he served in the military around the time of the fall of the Berlin wall.
“To see an American city as devastated by the economy as this one was and over a long period of time, it was obvious to me that this is part of America -- Detroit’s a great American city and as Detroiters we want to see it built back up,” he said.
Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanityand Karla Henderson, group executive of planning and facilities for the city of Detroit, also spoke at length about the initiative as well as the Akersons’ donation.
“We are especially thankful to Mr. Akerson,” said Henderson. “[He] and his wife display evidence of being true civic leaders by providing such a sizable donation to this cause of neighborhood stabilization, so we thank you.”
Track record of philanthropy
GM spokesman Greg Martin said Akerson has a track record of supporting strong communities both in the greater Washington, D.C., area and now Detroit.
“This is just one more example of Dan rolling up his sleeves and getting actively involved in the communities where he lives and works.”
Martin said Akerson has been involved with other Detroit-area events and organizations, including the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Karmanos Cancer Institute. He also has matched UAW donations to the Wounded Warrior Project for wounded war veterans, Martin said.
The Detroit News also reported the General Motors Foundation has been resurrecting its philanthropic efforts for the last two years, most notably with a $27.1-million pledge to help boost graduation rates at seven southeast Michigan high schools.
PRESS RELEASE: Habitat for Humanity Detroit launches $25 million “Leaders to ReBuild Detroit” city revitalization initiative
GM Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson donates $1 million personal gift
DETROIT (Feb. 22, 2012) — Habitat for Humanity Detroit today launched "Leaders to ReBuild Detroit," a three-year $25 million initiative to engage Detroit's corporate leaders in revitalizing the city. Roy Roberts, emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, and Karla Henderson, group executive of Planning and Facilities for the City of Detroit, helped announce the initiative and the $1 million personal cornerstone gift from General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson at Detroit Public Schools' J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy on the city's east side.
"Leaders to ReBuild Detroit" will focus on the Morningside Commons neighborhood, serving at least 500 families by 2014 through house construction, rehabilitation, critical repairs, and energy-efficiency upgrades and weatherization projects. Additionally, these families will participate in financial literacy training, homeownership workshops and community security initiatives provided by partnering organizations. The initiative is part of Habitat's statewide $225 million ReBuild Michigan campaign to address affordable housing needs in more than 70 Michigan counties.
"Habitat's mission is to create affordable housing, but the broader strategy behind 'Leaders to ReBuild Detroit' is to integrate affordable housing work with community development and improvement, providing a holistic approach to problems caused by financial insecurity, foreclosures and unemployment," said Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit. "This initiative will nearly triple the impact Habitat Detroit has had in the city to-date and leverage resources to rebuild Detroit communities."
The Akersons' cornerstone donation is intended to inspire other corporate leaders to contribute to Detroit's revitalization. The gift will fund house rehabilitation, construction and repairs in partnership with 20 families and weatherization projects in partnership with 12 families.
"A strong America is built on strong communities, and building them starts with one hammer, one nail and one person who cares – from there, it's contagious," said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. "My wife, Karin, and I want to see this effort to rebuild Detroit catch on, spread out and draw scores more volunteers and millions more in contributions."
"Leaders to ReBuild Detroit" is a collaboration among Habitat for Humanity Detroit, Habitat for Humanity Michigan and partnering organizations including the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Michigan State Housing Development Agency, Wayne County, the Detroit Land Bank Authority and Detroit Local Initiative Support Corporation.
"Having several schools in the Morningside Commons and immediately adjacent neighborhoods, Detroit Public Schools has a strong commitment to stabilizing and revitalizing this community," said Roy Roberts, DPS emergency manager. "We recently announced a comprehensive transformation aimed at improving academics and creating a more efficient system of high-performing schools. Included in that transformation plan is opening a new $46.5 million school within this very community this fall."
To participate or donate to "Leaders to ReBuild Detroit," interested parties or individuals are encouraged to visit www.habitatdetroit.org or call 313-521-6691.
"It will take a community-wide effort to ensure the success of 'Leaders to ReBuild Detroit,'" Tilford said. "It can be another major step in the collective effort to rebuild this great city – one neighborhood at a time."
About Habitat for Humanity Detroit
Habitat for Humanity Detroit is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing ministry providing decent, safe and affordable housing to low-income families in Detroit. Since 1986, the Detroit affiliate has rehabilitated and/or built new houses in partnership with more than 300 families. Financial support, gift-in-kind donations and volunteer labor allow Habitat for Humanity to continue building affordable homes with those in need of improved housing. For more information please visit www.habitatdetroit.org or call (313) 521-6691.
About Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is creating Centers of Excellence in every school within every neighborhood. The district's primary mission is educating students to perform at the highest academic level. DPS offers educational advantages to students throughout the district's 130-plus schools, including Netbooks for every student in grades 6-12, expanded time for reading and mathematics under a common core curriculum, pre-algebra for 7th graders, nine different languages and robust ESL (English as a Second Language) programs, Advanced Placement courses at every high school, and Fine Arts programs with instrumental music, vocal music and dance. DPS also has 14 new charter schools led by educators with proven track records of raising achievement, 17 new state-of-the-art school buildings or major renovations, along with millions of dollars in school building improvements district-wide, business partners for every school to help raise student achievement, parent engagement initiatives, and safety and security enhancements. To learn more about our programs, visit www.detroitk12.org.
About Habitat for Humanity Michigan
Habitat for Humanity Michigan (HFHM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides training, support and capacity building to the 76 Habitat for Humanity affiliates located throughout Michigan. Since 1993, Habitat for Humanity Michigan has helped make affordable housing a reality for families in nearly every county throughout Michigan. Habitat for Humanity Michigan brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. For more information, please visit www.habitatmichigan.org or call 800-467-5430.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that seeks to put God's love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.habitat.org, or follow us at www.facebook.com/habitat or at www.twitter.com/habitat_org or join Habitat's blog community at www.habitat.org/blog.