04/07/2011 05:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

General Motors Foundation, United Way Give Detroit Schools $27 Million

As the Detroit Public Schools system continues its attempt to erase a $327 million budget deficit, financial assistance couldn't come at a better time.

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan will use a $27.1 million gift from General Motors Foundation toward reducing the dropout rate at seven metro Detroit high schools, Detroit News reports.

It's the GM Foundation's largest gift ever and will help develop a program already instituted by the foundation at five other metro Detroit schools. Students at the seven new schools receiving the funds will be split into schools within schools and receive more individual attention, the Detroit Free Press reports.

At Cody High, where the program is in place, the graduation rate used to be about 60 percent. Now, the school tells the Free Press that nearly 90 percent of students come to class.

"Small schools do work," said Johnathon Matthews, who is principal of the Academy of Public Leadership at Cody. "We get the kids to come to school and that's the first step to getting them to graduate."

GM made the pledge to United Way's Networks of Excellence program back in December and announced the recipient schools Thursday. The network targets schools with graduation rates of about 50 percent in areas where the most manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent years, according to Detroit News.

The company's North America President and foundation board member Mark Reuss tells Detroit News that the idea is to give kids a quality education and keep graduates working in Detroit and in the auto industry:

"That is selfish, but that is our vision moving forward," Reuss said. "We need to help students here succeed, and we need to make sure that the students who do succeed stick around to help the city rebuild."

The money will also go toward seven early learning community centers that prepare kids for kindergarten.

Support struggling Detroit schools by giving to United Way for Southeastern Michigan.