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GM's Dan Akerson to donate $10,000 to DPS sports

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GM's Dan Akerson to donate $10,000 to DPS sports


Free Press Business Writer

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson plans a $10,000 personal donation today to support Detroit Public Schools athletics, inaugurating what he says will be increasing involvement in the city while he's here.

The donation will come from the Akerson family's charitable foundation, the Blue Earth Foundation, which focuses on child education and welfare, Akerson said in a phone interview.

Through the gift, Akerson is joining GM's renewed efforts to re-engage in Detroit civic and charitable causes. GM's charitable involvement -- either through its charitable foundation or through personal donations like Akerson's -- was stymied as GM hurtled into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.

The company is still in the midst of its turnaround, Akerson said -- it has posted profits for only two straight quarters. But GM and its employees will increasingly be able to give as the automaker becomes more successful.

"I do see a more promising future," he said. "So we're looking at a lot of things that we might or might not be able to do."

Akerson said his foundation will donate more to Detroit organizations, but will likely not publicize those gifts. And he said he hopes to become more active in civic life in Detroit after he gets through "this initial stage."

"I really haven't been a social animal," Akerson said.

Akerson said he's spoken with Mayor Dave Bing and has suggested the mayor might want to work with him to spark development in some of the paved areas on the Detroit River near the Renaissance Center.

David Cole, emeritus chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said Akerson's gift symbolizes GM's return to community involvement after its bankruptcy. Also, "I think it's symbolic that he's going to be a part of Detroit," Cole said. "He's not going to be a CEO that lives far away."

On Sept. 1, Akerson became GM's fourth CEO since March 2009, replacing Ed Whitacre, who had commuted to a downtown apartment from his home in Texas. Akerson has indicated his commitment to GM is more long term than Whitacre's nine-month reign and Thursday said his wife, Karin, is still looking for a home for the couple in metro Detroit. Akerson said they will likely split time between Michigan and their home in the Washington, D.C., area.

Akerson is giving the DPS donation the same day as boxers from the U.S. military academies are holding fund-raising bouts at the Detroit Athletic Club, and he and some of the boxers plan to address students today at Spain Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. Akerson, 61, was a Naval Academy boxer in college.

Read more: GM's Dan Akerson to donate $10,000 to DPS sports | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101029/BUSINESS01/10290350/1331/Business01/GMs-Dan-Akerson-to-donate-10000-to-Detroit-Public-Schools#ixzz13keM9V5K

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