State - Lansing Group aims to boost state's economic recovery New organization has some high-profile founding members

By David Runk

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- A newly formed national philanthropy wants to help Michigan rebound from its economic troubles by drawing on the resources, talents and ideas of people around the world with ties to the state.

Organizers of Michigan Corps recently kicked off their effort with some high-profile founding members, including Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt, CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta and Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides.

Michigan Corps hopes to recruit -- and connect -- thousands who are willing to donate a dollar or more to the effort. It plans to invest in organizations focused on economic transformation and wealth creation in the state.

"We think there is an opportunity to build an enduring, inclusive organization," said Rishi Jaitly, founder and CEO of Michigan Corps.

The New York native started Michigan Corps with his wife, Detroit native Anuja Jaitly, after working with College Summit, a nonprofit that aims to boost college enrollment rates for low-income students. He previously led government affairs and public-private partnerships for Google across South Asia.

Anuja Jaitly is a University of Michigan graduate who most recently worked with Ashoka, a charity that aims to promote social entrepreneurship. After the birth of their daughter in November and leaving their jobs earlier this year, they're living with Anuja Jaitly's family in southeast Michigan as they get Michigan Corps going.

A decade-long economic downturn has left Michigan with the nation's second-highest unemployment rate and one in every four residents relying on unemployment insurance, Medicaid, cash assistance or food stamps. The decline of the auto industry and American manufacturing has contributed to its struggles.

Among Michigan Corps' well-known founding members, Schmidt served with Rishi Jaitly on the board of Princeton University in New Jersey. Gupta is a Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate. And Eugenides, whose Pulitzer-winning novel "Middlesex" is set in the Detroit area, is a Detroit native.

To start, Michigan Corps plans to help fund two established nonprofits: Bizdom U, which provides training, mentorship and support for entrepreneurs in Detroit-based business, and Northern Initiatives, a Marquette-based community development corporation that aims to help the state's rural entrepreneurs.

"The idea behind Michigan Corps is that Michigan's resurgence is something that all Michiganders, residents and former residents can participate in together," Dennis West, executive director of Northern Initiatives, said in a statement.

Published: Wed, Aug 11, 2010