$9M investment push underway for Breithaupt school
Detroit — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, announced Wednesday the start of a $9 million fundraising push to expand career and technical education options at Breithaupt Career and Technical School on the city’s west side.
Quicken Loans and Bedrock will lead off with a $1 million combined donation. Duggan said, after the announcement, that he didn’t expect there would be trouble raising the remainder, but that the city would let participating businesses announce their investments themselves.
“Investing is believing,” said a video from the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund, which kicked off the announcement. “Every city is a work in progress.”
Breithaupt Career and Technical School trains students in culinary arts, retail and hospitality, automotive service and collision repair as well as mechatronics and welding. The school currently engages 450 students and expects to grow to over 650 students as a result of this investment. Over the next three years, Breithaupt will serve over 2,000 youth and adults. Breithaupt is named for Chef Herman A. Breithaupt, who created the culinary arts program at Detroit Public Schools’ Chadsey High School in 1939.
Detroit is hoping to address shortages in its workforce by training workers, young and old. The effort started last year at Randolph Career Technical Center, which benefited from a $10 million overhaul. Today, in addition to its 300 students, some 300 adults come in at night for technical training. The goal is to train some 900 students and 900 adults at Randolph over the next three years, officials said.
“Sometimes, they’re in the same family,” Duggan said. “The student will return home and their parent will take their place, working on the same machines students use.”
Randolph is a success story, but it isn't enough, said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, who was emcee of the brief ceremony and whose day job is president of the Detroit Employment Support Corporation.
“Detroit must create a pipeline of talent,” she said.
Duggan said the city has at least 5,000 vacant jobs and that “we can’t fill welding jobs in Detroit today,” which requires employees with the need to recruit from elsewhere.
“We need Detroiters to get those jobs,” Duggan said.
When Vitti took the helm at Detroit Public Schools Community District one year ago, Duggan asked him what he needed. Career training, Vitti said.
At least four times in his remarks, Vitti referred to “rebuilding” the school district, which has seen enrollment plummet since the early 2000s.
“This is is what rebuilding a school district looks like,” Vitti said. Making reference to the Bad Boys era of the Detroit Pistons, Vitti said: “they all played their role to come together to execute.”
So, too, Vitti said, will the school system, the city and the business community come together in the rebuilding effort.
“We don’t have a talent gap in Detroit, we have an opportunity gap,” Vitti said. “We want to become the best urban school district in this country.”
Vitti recruited Breithaupt principal Felicia Moore to return from an administrative role in career tech at Oakland Schools to return to the district where she’d worked for two decades, from 1993 to 2013.
This year, Breithaupt has some 17 students placed in jobs, including at The Suburban Collection and working in the suites at Comerica Park. That’s more students than the school placed in the previous three years combined. And the school feels the number could go much higher in the future, as offerings are expanded and the business community takes a greater interest in its students.
“It’s all about opportunity,” Moore said. “We need partners who will see the value in what our students can bring to the workplace.”
Interested parties and potential students can call the Breithaupt Career and Technical School at (313) 866-9550 for enrollment information.