A Message from Bob DiBlase, CEO of Street Rod Foundation
This is a very exciting time for our foundation. We are moving forward expanding on our current programs that have been very successful and starting new programs that will reach a broader range of students. We have been working on this for the last two years with the help from many good friends and organizations that have donated their time and skills.
We are redesigning the Street Rod Foundation to encompass a very broad range of skilled trade opportunities with class time and hands on experience that can be used in many automotive industries, such as street rods, muscle cars, road rally cars, trucks and sport cars, and alternate fuel vehicles. We are also planning on being a key player in the alternative energy vehicle industry. Our new alternate fuel program will enhance the use of higher technologies skills in the cars and trucks we drive today and also the cars and trucks we will drive in the future, and they will be more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. We are also planning to expand our facility to allow us to enlarge our building size to accommodate more classrooms for students, staff, work space, storages, paint booth, and for a high performance motor dyno test room.
Over the years, we have seen our automotive and manufacturing industries go through difficult times finding quality trained employees for existing jobs, and the new high tech jobs that are getting more and more high tech every day. There are many reasons why this is going on. I’d like to start with our high schools and colleges that have been closing or reducing many of the skilled trades programs. Every year, 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a little over 2 student per minute or 3296 students each day. The United States had one of the highest graduation rates, and now we are ranked 22nd out of 27 developed countries.
I hear a lot today that repairing cars has gone high-tech and that your laptop computer is just as important as the common repair tool like a set of socket wrenches. This is true, but don’t forget all the older cars and trucks that are still on the roads that need to be repaired. Students at the Street Rod Foundation will learn how to apply these newer technologies into these cars and trucks. We have stopped giving our youth the opportunity to work with their hands and minds in their early stages of life, including learning how to build something from metal, wood and incorporating electric knowledge to those parts. I remember growing up in the 60”s when we used to fix our own little transier radio’s. We have to help perk our youth’s interest and excite them from within to be creative, and inspire them to dream with a can do attitude.
I definitely believe it starts by finding their passion and building upon that.
We have had the opportunity of mentoring 35 students throughout the Educator One Build, and have inspired many more.
Our first custom car in the Educator Series build was called Educator One. It was hand crafted by our students under the guidance of the Street Rod Foundation and is a true work of great craftsmanship. Educator One took 4th place at the 2010 Detroit Autorama in the Altered Street Roadster Class. We have taken students and Educator One to many other car shows, including Good-Guys Indianapolis Show, Return to the Fountain in Marshall MI, Good-Guys 14th PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, NSRA 42nd Annual Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, NSRA Kalamazoo Nationals in Kalamazoo MI, ididit, Inc. Open House in Tecumseh, MI.
The total number of spectators at the shows we attended was well over 887,000. We display and pass out our all of our sponsor’s promotional material at all events we attend.
But, what’s most important for you to understand the impact on the students. When our board of directors stood back away from our car booth at the Detroit Autorama car show and watched the students that had worked on building this car, we were in awe of the confidence they had in themselves and how proud they were of what they had accomplished, both individually and as a group. Our Board knew then we were on track with our dreams and goals.
Here is one example I’d like to share with you from a former student’s proud mother, Dorothy Booth:
“I would like to thank the Street Rod Foundation for the great program they have. My son David Booth has learned and grown from the direction he has received in the program. He has more self-confidence now and is enjoying using the skills he has learned. It is so nice to see him involved in more than video games. He has a purpose for everyday now. He has also enjoyed working with Bob DiBlase and Dave Stanaway.”
As another example, David Lechler, our first intern, joined us for a semester to assist with our marketing tasks. David has graduated from Northwood University and received his bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management. He not only graduated at the top of his class, he also received the prestigious Magna Cum Laude honors. David is now using his educational skills and experience as he starts his career with Coca Cola Enterprises as an Account Manager.
The Street Rod Foundation is not just about automotive skills. We have and always will continue to instill in our students to inherit the whole package, good life skills that are so needed to be successful throughout life, I like to think of it as being able to work, play, and get along with everyone in the sand box, to be a team leader when needed (and just as importantly, how to be a good team member). As well as, contribute back to the community they live and work in. We feel all these skills must be included in the whole educational process.