Community,Our People | September 24 2018

FCA Community: Detroit Youth Taught Lawn Care and Life-Long Lessons

Eric Miller’s job brought him to Detroit in 2012, but he brought more to the city than just his family.

Launched in 2013, The Lawn Academy provides Detroit-area boys and girls, ages 11-19, a six-week college immersion program in partnership with Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD).

In turn, the youth provide lawn care services, free of charge, for the elderly, for veterans in need and for disabled / handicapped residents in Detroit. Beyond mowing lawns, they plant roses in honor of Eric’s grandmother, winterize windows to save heating costs and plow snow when it becomes an obstruction.

“Many of our youth don’t have positive role models in their lives, and I know that if we can just let them know we care – that we have their backs – they will exceed our expectations,” says Eric. “The goal here is to give them the opportunities to succeed and then have them become positive contributors to their communities.”

Funded solely through donations, The Lawn Academy partners with a broad network to accomplish Eric’s vision, which includes:

  • Teaming up with Aesculapians Honor Society of Wayne State University School of Medicine to provide one-on-one mentoring for youth participants throughout the school year, including monthly check-ups of classroom progress
  • Coordinating with Michigan Veterans Foundation to support veteran’s lawn care needs
  • Hiring retirees to coordinate the bus system to transport youth from their homes to both WCCCD and lawn care sites
  • Connecting with the Durfee Innovation Society, which opened in July 2017 through a partnership with Detroit-based nonprofit Life Remodeled and Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), to hold computer classes and serve as The Lawn Academy’s home base

Since its conception, Eric’s non-profit has received recognition by the Board of Police Commissioners of Detroit, the Detroit Police Department, the Spirit of Detroit Award by the City Council of Detroit and, most recently, Mentor of the Year from the Governor’s Service Awards in 2017.

The Lawn Academy has a goal to educate 500 youth and offer three mobile lawn care units across the city within the next five years. To learn more about The Lawn Academy, visit the website

About FCA Community Stories:

FCA Community explores the efforts of FCA US employees who see a need beyond the walls of their work sites and who devote energy outside their daily jobs to be a source of comfort and a force for change.