July 31, 2010; Source: Detroit Free Press | For centuries, immigrants have been sending money back to support relatives still living in their former homelands. A variation on that practice is set to launch this week when Michigan Corps unveils plans to raise money from former residents willing to help the state recover from the damage wrought by the recession.

The Detroit Free Press reports that some well-known and well-heeled ex-Michiganlanders are said to have signed on to the effort, called Michigan Corps. They include Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt; Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, and sports broadcaster Dick Enberg. Money raised will support nonprofits working to improve the state’s economy, according to Rishi Jaitly, Michigan Corps’ CEO and one of its founders.

Jaitly believes Michigan Corps has the power to “energize and mobilize the national community of Michiganders.” He added that the group’s guiding principle is, ‘Ask what you can do for your state.’ ” Michigan Corps is open to anyone, including current and former state residents. To join, members must pledge at least $1 at the group’s website: www.michigancorps.org.

While sending money back home has worked for immigrant groups, philanthropy expert, Peter Frumkin, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says the challenge facing Michigan Corps is how to overcome people’s preference to give money to organizations close to where they live, not those far away.—Bruce Trachtenberg