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Detroit — The United Way for Southeastern Michigan hopes to raise $42 million in its annual fundraising campaign, organizers announced Monday during a torch-lighting ceremony at Hart Plaza.

General Motors Co. President Dan Ammann, chairman of the United Way’s 2014 campaign themed “Because of You,” said he is excited to lead this year’s campaign that runs through the end of the year. Funds raised will be used for education, basic needs and financial stability.

“The goals and objectives and aspirations of United Way fit so closely with what General Motors is trying to do in the community here. Those goals are really aligned,” he said. “And we at General Motors have committed to making a much bigger contribution overall to United Way this year given that this community is so much a part of us and we are so much a part of this overall community.”

Ammann, who said he was inspired by time he recently spent at Hamtramck High School, said education is a central part of helping achieve the United Way’s goal of making the greater Detroit area a top five place to live and work by 2030.

The General Motors Foundation previously donated $27.1 million to the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to create a seven-school “Network of Excellence.” Ammann said GM employees have contributed more than 100,000 hours of activity and work to help improve schools through the program.

GM is kicking off its employee United Way campaign Monday with a ceremony in the Renaissance Center. The GM Foundation will match new or increased GM employee contributions to United Way for the 2014 campaign.

“As a company, whether we’re in Detroit, or we’re in Thailand or wherever we are around the world, making sure the communities in which we live and work are better places, it’s part of what we have to do and part of who we are,” Ammann said. “Obviously with our headquarters here and so many people at General Motors working in Detroit, it’s just really important to us to do whatever we can to contribute to the recovery of the city.”

Michael J. Brennan, president and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, said the torch-lighting ceremony has been held since 1949 and symbolizes hope and the start of the annual campaign.

“This does symbolize to the region that we’re going to come together,” he said.

More than $40 million was raised during the 2013 United Way campaign. The goal was $40 million, $5 million more than the year before.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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