As America’s educational system increasingly emphasizes college prep curricula and neglects the applied arts, crafts and trades, the value of working with one’s hands continues to erode. Young people are steered away from careers in the manual arts and are encouraged to enter fields that are perceived as more prestigious. Little attention is given to the fact that rewarding and remunerative careers continue to be enjoyed by countless professionals working in the restoration, preservation and maintenance of vintage vehicles—autos, motorcycles, trucks, wooden boats, even planes.
At the same time, concerned about the future of the collecting community, many enthusiasts have asked “Who will care for my collector cars, boats and motorcycles when I’m gone? Will there still be customers for my historic vehicle related business? Who will lead the hobby in the future?”
To address these concerns and secure our automotive heritage, the RPM Foundation was established in 2005 through the vision and support of Hagerty.
Initially established as the Collectors Foundation and transitioning in 2014 to the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum, the RPM Foundation has impacted more than 25,000 people and has awarded more than $2.78 million in funding.
The RPM Foundation also works with today’s master craftsmen to identify opportunities for intern and apprentice placement. In 2015, a graduate from the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Associate automotive restoration program, Ryan Levesque, was the first RPM Foundation apprentice. Working for 12-months at Precision Motor Cars in Allentown, PA, Levesque honed his skills under the guidance of master restorer and RPM Foundation Board member, Keith Flickinger. Upon completion of his apprenticeship, Levesque successfully secured a job at Kip Motor Company in Dallas, Texas.
This is the RPM Foundation – Building awareness of job opportunities in the restoration field, connecting talented young people to master craftsmen and supporting the continued ‘passing of the torch’ in sharing knowledge to develop the next generation of craftsmen who will care for and protect America’s automotive heritage.