DETROIT -

Mark Fields signs off as campaign chairman of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan knowing he helped the agency raise just over $40 million.

Fields, the chief operating officer for Ford Motor Company, served as chair for the United Way's "Invest in Our Kids" campaign.   Thursday he passed the torch to the new chairman, General Motors President Dan Ammann.

Under Fields, the United Way raised $40,006,284, which is 14 percent more than the year prior and the largest year-over-year increase for United Way for Southeastern Michigan in 17 years

"It has been such a tremendous honor to lead United Way for Southeastern Michigan for the past year," Fields said. "This campaign reinforced the incredible power of giving back to the community and the positive, lasting change we can make here in Southeast Michigan."

Ford contributed $7.4 million to the campaign.  According to the United Way, Ford has given more than any other corporation since the organization was founded in 1949

The campaign included a series of billboards featuring children as "The Next Carmen Harlan," The Next Damon Keith," "The Next Mitch Albom," and the "Next Dan Gilbert," to name a few.

The money will be used for United Way programs focused on education, to boost financial self-sufficiency and reduce hunger.

The United Way said Fields led the campaign with a cabinet of business and community leaders who provide leadership support to existing Southeast Michigan campaigns and help recruit new corporations. The members included business and community leaders from metro Detroit.  

"One of Ford's core values is to do our part in building a better world, including supporting strong communities everywhere our employees live and work," Fields said. "We are proud of our legacy of support to the United Way, and we look forward to building on that success in the years to come."

Michael Brennan, the president and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, said work will start this summer on the 2014-2015 campaign.

"We are looking ahead, and we thank incoming campaign chair Dan Ammann for agreeing to carry the torch forward with a visionary approach to meeting our next annual goal," Brennan said. "We are grateful for his enthusiasm for and dedication to United Way's mission."

"I am honored to serve this great organization and look forward to contributing to a successful campaign," said Ammann. "On behalf of the GM team, we are deeply committed to our long-standing relationship with United Way and fully support all of its caring efforts to those in need in our community."

The General Motors Foundation is already involved with the United Way, with the foundation giving its largest grant ever to the agency.  

The foundation pledged $27.1 million in 2010 to create a Network of Excellence in seven Detroit-area high schools. The money helps provide resources needed to help the schools reach their goal of increasing graduation rates from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2015.  

The money also aids the United Way's 65 Early Learning Centers in 10 of Detroit's most challenged neighborhoods.

The United Way has what it calls BHAG, a "big hairy audacious goal" to make Detroit one of the top five places to live and work by 2030.