The General Motors Foundation is donating $1 million among three Detroit charities in honor of GM’s former Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson and his wife Karin. The donations to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity Detroit and the Coalition On Temporary Shelter, or COTS, further the GM Foundation’s and the Akersons’ commitment to making a difference in GM’s headquarters city.
“Although not natives of Detroit, Dan and Karin Akerson were incredibly moved by the people and circumstances they encountered in the city,” said Senior Vice President of GM Global Public Policy and Communications Selim Bingol, chairman of the GM Foundation. “They changed many lives through their significant personal donations, and we wanted to honor their commitment through these grants.”
Of the $1 million, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen will receive $500,000 to feed Detroit’s citizens and tend to their basic needs. Habitat for Humanity Detroit will receive $400,000 towards both refurbishing and building new homes in Detroit, and COTS will receive $100,000 to continue to provide services to the homeless to foster self-sufficiency.
GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard presented the checks to each organization today. In addition, teamGM Cares Volunteers worked a shift in each facility, serving meals and preparing clothing contributions for the homeless, as well as framing houses for neighborhoods in Detroit.
“We are extremely grateful for the incredibly generous support the Akersons have provided the Capuchin Soup Kitchen during their years in Detroit,” said Brother Jerry Smith, executive director of the organization. “Now we are awed and humbled to receive this large gift from the GM Foundation in their honor. We wish Dan and Karin Godspeed as they journey into this next chapter of their lives; we will miss them.”
During Akerson’s tenure with GM, he and Karin became well known for their philanthropy. Shortly after arriving in Detroit, the Akersons chaired the Karmanos Cancer Institute Annual Dinner, raising more than $868,000. They then chaired the 40th Annual Capuchin “SOCK” dinner, personally donating $250,000 and raising a record $1 million for the organization.
Additionally, as a 40th Anniversary gift to each other, the Akersons donated $1 million to Habitat for Humanity Detroit to benefit the Morningside Community and kick off the “Leaders to ReBuild Detroit” campaign. Akerson also sent his 1958 Corvette to auction, raising $270,000 for the Habitat affiliate. In 2013, the Akersons received the “Sponsor of the Year Award” from Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, which also renamed the award in their honor.
“Once again, the GM Foundation overwhelms us with its generosity,” said Habitat for Humanity Detroit Executive Director Vincent Tilford. This contribution will enable us to continue to build homes, community and hope for hard working families. Dan and Karin Akerson are true champions for Detroit and we are honored to be awarded this gift as part of their legacy.”
Added COTS’ CEO Cheryl P. Johnson: “This gift comes at a critical time for our agency. COTS is in a very important transition as we begin to shift more focus to serving families. I know from my time spent with Mr. Akerson that this work will honor his legacy, as he is such an incredibly family-centered individual. We are grateful to Dan and to the General Motors Foundation for making this investment in our community to help build self-sufficiency and poverty-resistant children.”
After serving as GM Chairman and CEO for more than three years, Mr. Akerson retired from the company on January 15.