by Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson and his wife, Karin Akerson, will donate $1 million today to kick-start a new Habitat for Humanity initiative called Leaders to ReBuild Detroit, aimed at stabilizing the MorningSide neighborhood on the city’s east side.
An event today at the J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy will launch the $25-million effort to aid at least 500 MorningSide families by 2014. The Akersons will be there, joined by Roy Roberts, the emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools, and city and Habitat officials.
“All you have to do is drive around the city of Detroit and you can see the economic devastation,” Akerson told me in an interview this week. “The contrast between Grosse Pointe and MorningSide… is pretty dramatic. You look to the left and you see one world, and you look to the right— and in my humble opinion, it shouldn’t be that way in America, but it is.”
While large corporate foundations play a big role in addressing societal challenges , personal involvement is also a key catalyst for action, Akerson added. “To me, everything in life is personal. People need to see people stand up to it, not just institutions.”
Although the Akersons’ gift will focus on building and upgrading homes in Detroit’s MorningSide area, especially around the Clark and Robert Brown Academy elementary schools, it’s also part of statewide $225-million ReBuild Michigan Habitat for Humanity campaign in its early stages.
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