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Crain's Detroit Business: Quicken Loans, other organizations take on Detroit high school interns through national nonprofit

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Quicken Loans, other organizations take on Detroit high school interns through national nonprofit
By Annalise Frank

The Quicken Loans Community Fund is anchoring a new internship program for high school seniors in Detroit

Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Rock Family of Companies will take on 30 new interns over the next 10 months through a Washington, D.C.-based national youth development nonprofit. Another five will work for Bank of America in Detroit and the rest will be placed at to-be-announced nonprofits.

The effort to strengthen the city’s talent pipeline comes after the Gilbert-related philanthropic fund recruited Urban Alliance to Detroit through a new partnership and an undisclosed investment. The nonprofit works with companies in cities where it sees underserved high schoolers are in need of training opportunities.

“We’re always scanning locally and nationally for best practices in the education and employment spaces,” said Laura Grannemenn, vice president of strategic investments for the Quicken Loans Community Fund. “This was the result of looking to other cities to see what’s working well.”

The Quicken Loans Community Fund, Urban Alliance and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the new high school internship program Friday morning at one of three participating schools, the A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical Center. The city isn’t directly involved but supports the effort alongside its own similar initiative Grow Detroit’s Young Talent.

The first Urban Alliance cohort of 40 students is undergoing a professional skills bootcamp ahead of internships to start in November. They’re “economically disadvantaged” high school seniors selected from Randolph, Breithaupt Career and Technical Center and Osborn High School, said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. They’ll work four afternoons a week and then gather on Fridays for more professional development until the end of the school year. Then they will work full time through the end of July.

Participating companies pay $12,500 per student per internship, Smith said. That money goes to Urban Alliance, which then pays the students. They will earn minimum wage: Generally around $6,000-$7,000 for the year, with two opportunities for $1-an-hour raises. As anchor organization, the Quicken Loans fund paid extra and signed on for two years. It declined to disclose investment figures.

The rest of the per-intern fee goes to funding the program, which includes mentorship and skills training for high school seniors seeking job experience either to boost their college resumes or ready them for the workforce.

Urban Alliance has three Detroit employees and is hiring one more. They’re housed at One Campus Martius with Quicken Loans.

The nonprofit operates in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia. It served 690 students total last year. It aims to serve at least 40 again in Detroit next year and ramp up to at least 105 in its fourth year there.

Detroit differs from the other cities in a major way: It’s one of two incoming locations (the other in Montgomery County in Maryland) where the nonprofit is directly subsidizing student transportation, Smith said. In other cities it offers budgeting assistance and advice.

“It’s something we’re doing in Detroit because the transportation is a little less comprehensive in terms of being able to get to certain job sites,” she said.

In Detroit, the interns will be able to take school buses to work. On their way home they can take public transit paid for through Urban Alliance.