Education, Job creation, News, Regional Transformation

Deloitte/Cornerstone Schools launch program to prepare Detroit’s kids for successful future

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Sometimes what kids really need to make something of themselves is just to be shown the right path. That’s the goal of the Deloitte Cornerstone Career Pathways (DCCP).

The locally driven program will help prepare urban students for college and successful careers. It will build their skills in mathematics, accounting, analytical problem solving, general management, business ethics and related areas so they are ready for future work in industry and highly skilled professions. The program begins in the 2015-16 school year for students in 5th through 12th grade

DCCP is the “child” of Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, who a year ago, in the midst of Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy, saw a need and an opportunity to better educate Detroit’s next generation. Education had to be a priority if Detroit was to succeed and reach its full potential.

“Detroit is at a historic juncture of transformation,” Davidoff said. “As our business community works to return financial stability to the city, we also see opportunity to help Detroit return as a leader in developing great talent.”

kidsHe worked with Cornerstone Schools to develop the DCCP program, which they brought to Deloitte U.S. leadership. The program was approved for Detroit and is part of Deloitte’s national initiative to provide educational support in the urban areas where it operates. Deloitte has made a five-year commitment to the program. It will provide a portion of the funding, provide classroom volunteers and speakers, as well as mentorship and internship programs.

“We selected Detroit given the progress and energy surrounding urban revitalization and the strong example being set by corporate, community and government leadership to move Detroit forward,” said Bill Copeland, vice chairman, U.S. life sciences & health care leader, U.S. health plans leader and corporate citizenship education champion, Deloitte LLP.

Deloitte is proud to work with Cornerstone Schools because it has a 24-year track record of success in preparing Detroit students to be tomorrow’s leaders, he said. The company hopes the DCCP program will be a blueprint that can be expanded to other Deloitte markets in the U.S.

Detroit has an under-representation of African Americans in its financial and accounting sectors, among other professional careers.  This is hardly a unique problem in major America cities, so why was Detroit chosen for this project?

Mark Davidoff

Mark Davidoff

According to Davidoff, Michigan has nearly 18,000 certified public accountants and only 1 percent of them are African American.  In addition, African Americans represent less than 6 percent of students currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in accounting.

“The profession has been working to change this dynamic without significant progress,” he said. “The DCCP approach will hopefully be a game changer.”

Cornerstone Schools has 515 students and anticipates 120 from grades 5-12 will be enrolled in the DCCP program in the next school year. The curriculum will provide specific focus on building students’ character, as well as professional skills and competency. The program does not stop there. The students will also learn critical thinking, public speaking, team building and ethics.  The progressive way to learn will be coupled with internships and mentors to guide, prepare, and realize the world of higher academia and careers that await them after graduation.

Students in grades 5-9 are automatically in the program. Students in grades 10 and above can apply for enrollment when they register for the 2015-2016 school year. Selection is based on academic performance and commitment to the program. Those who do not continue in the DCCP program after ninth grade will still receive professional training and exposure to a wide variety of professional careers through internship and mentorship programs with other Cornerstone supporters.

Applications are available online at www.CornerstoneSchools.org.

“As we look to develop tomorrow’s talent, we are looking to help improve educational opportunities available to the children of the city of Detroit. Deloitte’s investment from the organization and the people of Deloitte will be one of our more important and significant national commitments to education,” Davidoff said.

Cornerstone is looking to collaborate with other corporations to extend the Career Pathways program.

“This program demonstrates a unique opportunity to provide Cornerstone’s students with professional role models,” said Clark Durant, founder of Cornerstone Schools. “As we actively explore ways to collaborate with our goal is to expand opportunities for our students in all industries using the platform established with Deloitte as a basis for future programs.”

Education is the way to a brighter future. The DCCP may be the making of a very powerful light bulb in Detroit.

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