“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

The words of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, are not only true but utterly inspiring. A good education is not only a doorway to something better but a challenge to blaze your own trail, a sentiment that drives Comerica Bank’s core values and commitment to the community.

“Educating the generation succeeding ours not only makes sense socially as a way to ensure the continued growth and revitalization of our communities, but it also makes sense from a business standpoint,” said Patricia McCann, national civic affairs manager, Comerica Bank. “Educating the next generation of small businesses owners, engineers, scientists and CEOs is the key to sustaining a healthy economic environment here in Detroit.”

Comerica supports education initiatives across Michigan that not only promote the importance of obtaining and furthering one’s education, but also shed light on different career paths that might be less obvious to local students.

With the school year coming to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the ways Comerica is helping make the future brighter for students across metro Detroit:

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Throughout May, the city of Detroit was abuzz with Indy Car fever as the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix came to town. Comerica Bank signed on to sponsor Free Prix Day on opening Friday of Grand Prix weekend to allow race fans free admittance to the entire day’s festivities.

To celebrate race weekend and explore the different career paths available to women on the Indy Car circuit, a group of students from the robotics team and the pre-college engineering program at the all-girls Detroit International Academy were invited for a behind the scenes look at the racing technology on Belle Isle.

John Oreovicz, Indy Car writer for ESPN, guided the tour where the first stop was to meet Cara Adams, a project engineer for Firestone Racing. Adams explained how she uses engineering to make race tires safe and durable.

“For these engineering students to have the opportunity to witness women succeed at such a high level is both eye-catching and motivating,” said McCann. “It’s our hope that this experience will show these young ladies that a career in engineering is absolutely possible as long as they continue to work hard in the classroom.”

Oreovicz’s tour continued on and the girls learned about the GrandAm Rolex series cars, where the crew members are constantly analyzing information received during practice and how that results in changes being made to the car’s gearbox. Students also learned about the drivers’ suits and how they house cooling mechanisms to protect from the high temperatures felt while racing. Oreovicz went on to discuss car lifts, and the importance of weight distribution for these high tech cars.

As the tour continued, the young women met Mary Mendez, owner of RPM Tours, who introduced them to other crew members on racing teams. She relates to the young women because she was inspired to work in racing when she was in school. The tour also stopped by the garage of the weekend’s only female driver, Simona De Silvestro.

Investment Workshop at Old Redford

It’s not always some grand event or flashy production that catches a student’s eye. Sometimes a simple introduction to a new subject or career is enough to inspire. So, when Dara Munson, co-chair of the Services Youth Facet of The Renaissance (MI) Chapter of The Links Inc., reached out to Dennis Johnson, chief investment officer at Comerica, to host an investment workshop for a group of enterprising young women in the Girl Stars! program at Old Redford Academy in Detroit, he welcomed the opportunity.

The Service Youth Facet, which Munson co-chairs with Rhonda Walker, news anchor at WDIV-TV, has partnered with the Girl Stars! program to help better prepare these high schoolers with the tools and vision to achieve their goals and become successful, well-rounded women. The Girl Stars! program pillars focus on health and wellness, etiquette, education, life planning, positive relationships, leadership and character building and career exploration. The latter is exactly where Johnson’s investment workshop was focused.

Johnson kicked off his workshop by holding up the Detroit Free Press and then the Wall Street Journal along with some other publications to express the importance of keeping up on current events, especially while maintaining an investment portfolio.

The workshop continued with explanations of how stocks are traded, as well as the different markets, both domestic and foreign, where they’re traded. To tie it all together and appeal to the high school students, Johnson asked the young women to name some of their favorite companies, such as Apple, Inc. and Google, so he could look up the price per share of the company’s stock. Johnson was able to grab the group’s attention by focusing on companies that they had an affinity towards.

At this point in their education, many students haven’t been taught financial literacy or been exposed to the different careers in banking, including investment banking.

“These students have the great benefit of getting exposed to investment and other topics that, quite frankly, growing up I wish I had the exposure to as well,” said Johnson. “Just to be a part of this program and hopefully have an impact on one young lady’s life is a very gratifying experience and I look forward to doing it again.”

Before ending the workshop, Johnson encouraged all the girls to choose a stock and challenged them to keep an eye on how well it performs throughout the summer. Johnson plans to return next fall to evaluate how well the Girl Stars! were able to manage their portfolios.

Innovations for Learning
TutorMate Program

Comerica Cares volunteers are always looking for new ways to give back, even when busy work schedules make it tough to do so. One nonprofit organization has found a solution that’s a perfect fit for business professionals, including many Comerica volunteers.

Innovations for Learning (IFL) teaches reading and writing skills to at-risk students in underserved communities, mainly through tutoring programs. Realizing that many professionals just don’t have the time to travel to and from schools, IFL came up with a solution that uses today’s technology to connect some of the brightest minds in the business world with the classroom.

The program, aptly named TutorMate, allows Comerica Cares volunteers working from offices throughout metro Detroit to tutor students without ever leaving their desks. An online platform allows students and volunteers to see the same computer screen, where together they can complete activities geared towards improving reading and spelling skills.

Although this is only Comerica Bank’s second year in the program, its popularity is growing. The bank started with only 12 volunteers, a number that has grown to more than 50 this year.

Comerica’s Continued

Comerica Bank has made a commitment to not only prepare the next generation of bankers but to help the next generation of engineers, zoologists, race car drivers, mechanics, artists and everything in between reach new heights.

As the 2012-2013 school year comes to a close, Comerica colleagues are already planning more experiences, workshops and new ways to engage students in Southeast Michigan and help them learn in the 2013-2014 school year.

To be continued, fall 2013…

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