One GM-guided team is the Mercy Midnight Storm, an all-girls robotics group
It’s never too early to nurture interest in STEM. That’s why GM encourages students, educators and entrepreneurs to explore STEM subjects and tackle real-world challenges. One longstanding—and fun—way we do this is by mentoring youth robotics teams. One GM-guided team is the Mercy Midnight Storm, an all-girls robotics group. Eight of the team’s 11 mentors are GM employees, who help the Mercy Midnight Storm design, code and manufacture remote-controlled robots. The groups are given six weeks to go from sketch to battle-ready, so the pressure is intense. The girls met at least 10 hours a week during build season at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. In their first year of competition, the Mercy Midnight Storm earned the prestigious Rookie All-Star award at the 2016 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition in Michigan, made the district event finals and went to Worlds in St. Louis. In 2018, the team had a visit from GM CEO Mary Barra.
GM also supports teachers of STEM subjects through a partnership with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and in 2018 provided training in artificial intelligence for more than 70 teachers. During National Teacher Appreciation Week, we also matched community donations of $500,000 to 1,789 teachers through a DonorsChoose.org campaign and conducted an employee microgiving campaign for teacher development and classroom supplies through United Way.
We also partnered with Solve, an MIT initiative, to fund transformational solutions in STEM education from tech entrepreneurs. Two finalists were selected for both the Work of the Future challenge and the Teachers and Educators challenge and will split GM’s $100,000 prize to scale their concepts.
There’s no more fitting way for GM to connect with students interested in STEM than by involving them in our mission to achieve zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. GM and our brands did just that with a number of programs geared toward college and university students, including:
As in the U.S., GM facilities in Canada are committed to increasing STEM education opportunities and promoting environmental protection. In 2018, GM Canada announced the GM Canada STEM Fund, a $1.6 million commitment for educational programs to encourage students in STEM and inspire the next generation of Canadian technology innovators.
For more than 20 years, the organization has operated GM Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN), a program to empower youth to understand their impacts on local watersheds and foster a sense of environmental stewardship. Students engage in outdoor activities such as stream water sampling, stream flow testing and species identification to assess watershed health. GM employees volunteer and serve as mentors to directly support students. GM GREEN now operates at 11 GM locations across Canada.
General Motors Canada won the 2018 Global Compact Canada SDG Leadership award, and is featured in the 2019 Sustainability Development Goals Emerging Practices Guide as an industry leading example of ‘Responsible Production and Consumption’
With the GM Student Corps program, Detroit area high school students are able to help their communities while also forging lasting relationships with GM retirees and current employees. Since its introduction in 2013, the program has empowered hundreds of local students to enhance their communities while learning valuable life skills. GM Student Corps has provided more than 800 summer internships, 72 school improvement projects and more than 68 park renovations. The program’s community impact includes:
GM is proud to partner with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to develop the next generation of STEM talent among American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nations and Pacific Islanders. In 2018, GM Corporate Giving made a $50,000 grant to AISES, which allowed the organization to develop programs for middle and high school students in robotics, computer science and other STEM topics.
We recruit Native American college graduates by reaching out to AISES college chapters, regional conferences and the national conference. GM’s Native American Cultural Network (NACN) employee resource group, under executive champion Kurt Wiese, vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering, continues to educate, inform and create a greater awareness among GM employees, customers and the public about North American Indian culture and values by ways of marketing our products and representing GM in outreach initiatives.
NACN members are critical in helping us recruit the next generation of Native American employees, participating in activities such as serving as a judge during a Native American Skills Competition in Arizona or hosting a group of Buffalo School Native students at our Lockport, New York plant. GM has been the only automaker named to the Top 50 Workplace for Native American Professionals in STEM for seven consecutive years by Winds of Change Magazine.
Chevrolet and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) concluded a third successful year of the Discover the Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship Program. NNPA represents more than 200 African American-owned media companies and newspapers in the United States. The DTU Fellowship is an opportunity for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to complete summer fellowships at NNPA member newspapers across the country. For the 2018 program, six students were divided into two teams, and each team was given access to a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox for the multicity fellowship and road trip.
The journey began and ended at GM’s headquarters in Detroit. To kick things off, the DTU fellows met with NNPA publishers and editors for a two-day boot camp. They learned about the Chevrolet Equinox, new Chevrolet marketing campaigns and best practices for sharing their journey on social media. They also met with Michelle Matthews-Alexander, Chevrolet’s Diversity Marketing Director. Then the teams hit the road, filing stories about their experiences along the way. The eight-week program ended with a special ceremony back at GM headquarters.
The DTU Fellowship continues to welcome students from more schools each year. To date, Chevrolet has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships and stipends to HBCU students.
GM China began work in 2018 with a new partner, Habitat for Humanity China. Habitat for Humanity is a global organization that recruits teams of volunteers to build or restore homes for people in need. One of the group’s focus areas in China is renovation of homes in urban areas, where many elderly people live alone.
Volunteers from GM China took on five projects in 2018. These included painting the walls of a staircase in a historic building that is home to 56 low-income families. The residents, who are mostly elderly, were overjoyed to see their building made more livable. Next, 22 employees repaired a leaking roof at a nursing home on the outskirts of Shanghai. The facility lacked the funds and skills necessary to repair the roof itself. GM China and Habitat for Humanity worked together to buy the necessary materials, move tiles and mix cement to complete the job. With their new roof, 40 villagers now enjoy a safer and more comfortable home.
Car crashes are a leading cause of injury and death for young children in China. Each day, at least 30 families are involved in crashes, and 10 children die in traffic accidents. Many of these tragedies can be prevented by educating parents and children on how to stay safe around vehicles. That’s why GM China, along with Safe Kids Worldwide, launched the Safe Kids Safe Ride partnership, now in its fifth year.
Through this program, GM volunteers visit classrooms across China to teach children about topics such as traffic safety and the importance of protective equipment such as seatbelts and child safety seats. We helped spread safety knowledge even further in 2018 by working with traffic police workforce and child safety centers. While lessons happen classroom by classroom, they add up to a big impact: since its launch, the program has reached approximately 330,000 children and their parents at more than 4,000 schools in 38 cities across China. In recognition of its efforts, Safe Kids Safe Ride received the Best Social Contribution Award at the Third China CSR Education Award Ceremony in Beijing.
We’re helping build and sustain a more vibrant Detroit through investments that make GM’s hometown a great place to learn, work and thrive. Our current goals are to increase the number of local third-graders with grade-level reading proficiency, which is a predictor of one’s likelihood of graduating from high school. We also aim to decrease unemployment by making more vocational training opportunities available and removing barriers to sustained employment. Finally, we hope to increase the number of residents, businesses and visitors that call Detroit home by investing in livable neighborhoods, cultural institutions and experiences that foster continued engagement in the city. Here are a few partnerships and organizations that are making this possible:
Forgotten Harvest & Gleaners Reducing food insecurity and promoting classroom readiness by providing food for Detroit students and their families.
IridescentIntroducing artificial intelligence concepts and technologies to families through hands-on building challenges and projects to create solutions for community problems.
United WayAccelerating Detroit’s revitalization through programs to provide early childhood education and build college and career pathways.
Get Schooled DetroitMaking the path to post-secondary education more accessible for low-income high-school students by “gamifying” the college prep process.
Beyond BasicsProviding young adults and families with world-class literacy development, GED and high school diploma prep, resume and essay writing, art and culture enrichment and more, housed inside the Durfee Innovation Society.
Vehicles for Change Building a bridge to sustainable careers for underemployed and disadvantaged persons by providing training and mentoring to serve as automotive technicians.
Cass Tiny Houses Helping to create a path to homeownership for low-income Detroit women by building tiny houses on reclaimed city blocks. Financial education classes and an affordable rent-to-own model will allow participants to own their tiny home after seven years.
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Promoting vibrancy and community in the heart of downtown Detroit through support of activities that bring residents and visitors to the riverfront.
Cody Rouge Neighborhood Deeply engaging with Quicken Loans, DTE Energy and the Skillman Foundation to strengthen the Cody Rouge neighborhood in a first-of-its-kind collaboration utilizing financial and volunteer support.
Michigan Science CenterBringing STEM careers to life for 4th-8th-grade girls in Detroit Public Schools with hands-on learning and mentoring through the center’s STEMinista Project.
“When I learned that one of our own was at the forefront of the efforts, I was reminded of something I keep discovering—never to be surprised by the bravery and commitment of the men and women of General Motors. Your dedication to doing the right thing embodies the very best of human nature."
— CEO Mary Barra, in a message to Ruengrit Changwanyuen
When Ruengrit Changwanyuen (left), an IT launch manager at GM’s Thailand Rayong Plant, first saw news coverage of the boys’ soccer team trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand, he was filled with panic. It was clear to Changwanyuen that those leading the rescue operation did not have the experience or equipment needed to perform a successful rescue.
Changwanyuen should know. He grew up swimming in the Great Lakes. A college friend invited him to learn to scuba dive in Lake Huron, and the rest is history: he became a dive master, dive instructor and eventually an expert at cave diving. Diving in caves is far more dangerous than in open waters, because divers cannot easily resurface. It requires specialized equipment and extensive training.
That experienced prompted Changwanyuen to immediately volunteer to help. He flew to Chiang Rai and became dive supervisor and coordinator for the rescue mission, helping to prepare equipment, train divers and plan and perform dives. He also summoned expert cave divers he knew from around the world. Thanks in part to Changwanyuen’s efforts, more than two weeks after the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach entered the cave, all were safely rescued.
Changwanyuen credits some of his success to skills learned on the job at GM, where he has worked since 2001. “My work involves dealing with many departments from many countries, so that helped me a lot in coordinating this,” he says. Changwanyuen has supported GM’s IT infrastructure in China and India, helped launch an OnStar Call Center in the Philippines, worked on OnStar’s IT in Detroit, and now leads GM IT support in Egypt, Korea, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, India and Thailand.
In recognition of his extraordinary efforts, Changwanyuen received a GM LifeSaver Award Certificate of Recognition. “I’m just a small part of a big operation and a lot of teamwork,” Changwanyuen says.
“There are no borders. When something like this happens, every country around the world, they all come together to work on the same goal. That’s the same thing in General Motors. Our culture works towards that every day.”