Internship Pairs Detroit Students With GM Retirees

Jameel Harris, foreground right, a senior at Cody College Prep Upper School of Teaching and Learning in Detroit, cleans up brush outside an abandoned house near his school. He and the other students are participating in the GM Student Corps, a new program sponsored by General Motors, in which they work with retired company employees on community-service projects and receive career mentoring and other instruction.
—Brian Widdis for Education Week

Teams of high schoolers from poor neighborhoods hold down 9-to-5 jobs and get life-skill and other lessons

The grass and weeds surrounding the burnt-out house across the street from Cody College Prep Upper School of Teaching and Learning were about 4 feet tall when the crew began its work here at 9 a.m. on a recent day in July.

The 10 paid high school interns from Cody, alongside three General Motors retirees and a recent graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy, decided that securing the abandoned properties was the top priority for their newly formed GM Student Corps team. Not only were the homes an eyesore, they were also potentially dangerous: The empty structures were magnets for illegal activity, and neighborhood children had to walk in the streets because of the brush-covered sidewalks.

Wearing fluorescent orange vests, work gloves, and hats with the Student Corps’ sunshine logo, the group used saws, clippers, weed-whackers, rakes, and brooms to chop and bag the debris. After three hours of work and two water breaks, bag lunches arrived in a Chevy Silverado.

The students crossed the street to the park and packed up the tools, knowing they otherwise might disappear before the young people finished lunch in the air-conditioned school cafeteria.

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