On Thursday January 6, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne announced plans to open a skilled trades and manufacturing training center in August of this year. The 13,000 square foot multi-million dollar training center will be called The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne Jim Kelley Career Pathway Center located at 2439 Fairfield Avenue in Fort Wayne.
The two-story building will be comprised of five learning labs with state of the art computers, software and equipment to provide school aged kids with skills training such as supply chain management, automotive, manufacturing, construction trades and more, to prepare them to successfully enter into skilled trades and manufacturing careers.
“My father, Jim Kelley, learned skills in tool and die work and always dreamed of opening a school to bring kids into high demand skilled labor jobs,” said Tom Kelley of the Kelley Automotive Group. The building was purchased by Kelley, donated to the club and will bear his father’s name.
“About five years ago, we imagined a program to introduce our members to the skilled trades,” said Joe Jordan President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne. “Our new club facility opened in early 2019 and included the Do it Best Trades & Partnership Room.
With the help of the Northeast Indiana Building Trades, the Project Blueprint program introduced several hundred members to various aspects of the trades.” Various members of the Northeast Indiana Building Trades such as electrical workers, heat and frost specialists, plumbers and steamfitters, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, carpenters, and so on donated hundreds of hours as trainers and instructors. Michael Kinder & Sons and Elevatus Architecture, who will oversee design and construction, also worked on the program.
Chris Roberts and student mentors of the Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) Career Academy as well as Ivy Tech also worked with club members.
In a new collaboration, FWCS will introduce 2,200 8th grade students to the Jim Kelley Career Pathway Center during the school day while club members will utilize the facility after school.
Dr. Mark Daniel, Superintendent of FWCS said “The Club’s Career Pathway Center will be an integral piece of the overall learning experience for our students. We have an obligation to prepare our children for their future and give them a leg up on high skilled, well paying jobs. This will bring better prepared, more skilled students into our Career Academy as well.”
Fort Wayne UNITED, another collaborator, will be establishing a structure to connect students and club members to employers throughout the region.
The initial Project Blueprint program continues to receive support from AEP/Indiana Michigan Power, General Motors Assembly, United Auto Workers 2209, United Steel Workers 715, the Northeast Indiana Building Trades and its members, NIPSCO and Do it Best.
Chuck & Lisa Surack/Surack Enterprises, Kelley Automotive, Rick and Vicky James Foundation, Ruoff Mortgage/Mike Music, English Bonter Mitchell Foundation, McMillen Foundation, Suedhoff Memorial Trust, and Automotive Color and Supply have provided some of the capital funding for the new venture.
Michael Kinder & Sons and Elevatus Architecture, who designed and built the award winning club facility at 2609 Fairfield Ave, have been hired for the new project.