DETROIT — Chrysler Group LLC Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne, who also serves as United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Campaign Chair, kicked-off the annual community giving campaign today with a symbolic torch lighting ceremony on Detroit’s Hart Plaza to announce a $35 million fundraising goal for the organization, which represents an 11 percent increase over last year.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and United Way President and CEO Michael J. Brennan, along with many community members, civic, business and community leaders and supporters, attended the event. After standing dark for five years, the torch was relit to signify a monumental change in the way that the public and private sectors are working together to achieve a common goal — making greater Detroit one of the top five places in the country to live and work by the year 2030, which is the year when children born in 2012 will graduate from high school.
Supporting United Way ensures that positive, lasting community change will continue to occur at a grassroots level. The last few years have been financially tough for the organization, which relies on a combination of individual and corporate contributions, as well as grant funding, to survive.
“Metro Detroiters also have gone through tough times more than once, and they have always demonstrated the courage and determination to get back on their feet. These experiences give us the strength and the hope to move forward, to repair what has been damaged and to build something even better,” Marchionne told the crowd assembled in downtown Detroit. Mayor Bing and Brennan concurred.
“Chrysler Group LLC, and its employees, has a long history of generosity and leadership. We count on you to maintain this tradition and to be a part of creating remarkable and tangible change in our community,” said Brennan.
“Our goal today is to inspire action and to encourage greater community involvement,” stated Mayor Bing. “This event represents an important and symbolic day in Detroit’s history.”
This year’s fundraising campaign is supported by a new pro bono marketing campaign created by the Dearborn-based advertising agency Team Detroit Inc. It’s known as the “Better Headlines” campaign and is focused on positive news headlines for the year 2030 that can be anticipated if people continue to donate to United Way and fund the efforts it supports in three areas—Education, Financial Stability and Basic Needs.
United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Torch Lighting kick-offs the community fundraising campaign, which will run until the end of this year.
This summer, Chrysler Group partnered with United Way in the fight against childhood hunger throughout Detroit metro area communities. As a result, the partnership served up more than 100,000 summer meals for hungry children. In 2011, Chrysler Group employees donated more than $4.6 million to United Way campaigns in the U.S. and in Canada; and employees volunteered thousands of hours in support of United Way agencies and activities.