Our History


Penn College automotive restoration technology student Vanessa Mathurin, of Philadelphia, walks guests through the program’s multifaceted restoration process.

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 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 $3.5 million in grant funding for programs that provide a pathway to careers in restoration and preservation.

But grants are just the beginning.  The RPM Foundation works to safeguard the critical skills necessary to restore and preserve collector vehicle through the establishment of the RPM Apprenticeship Program and RPM Internship Program, where students and recent graduates are connected with restoration Host Shops to learn the craft of restoration and preservation.  We conduct industry research to cast light on career opportunities, pay scale, necessary skillsets, and more.  And we provide career services to young people who are ready to enter the workforce.

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 heritage.