In a city focused on community, Mark Wreath, the Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at Vancouver Public Schools (VPS), saw a vision for the future. VPS has always passionately supported students interested in trade work and workforce readiness, yet the challenge lay in the limited space available to nurture these ambitions.
Mark, driven by a commitment to provide equal and attainable opportunities, teamed up with Jenny Thompson, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools. Together, they embarked on a journey to expand the horizons of career and technical education. Their dedication would attract the attention of the Endeavour Fund, a donor inspired by the impactful work they were doing.
In a meeting between Mark, Jenny, and the Endeavour Fund, the seeds of change were sown. Endeavour recognized the importance of empowering students with practical skills and vocational training, acknowledging the profound impact it could have on shaping their futures. Understanding that a new, purpose-built facility was essential for the expansion of CTE programs, the Endeavour Fund generously donated a staggering $1 million. When asked why they chose to give so generously they said, “The Endeavour Fund strives to ignite positive change that prioritizes youth and educational opportunities. The Endeavour Fund works collaboratively, seeking to empower our community to generate platforms for future generations.”
With the seed money in place, Jenny Thompson took charge of rallying the community to fulfill the remainder of the $2.5 million needed for the ambitious project. The Foundation engaged with local businesses, parents and community members, and the response was overwhelming. This project demonstrates the collective belief in the power of investing in the next generation’s skills and abilities. One of the first advocates the Foundation met with was Jon Girod of Quail Homes who was eager to support the efforts saying, “It is vital for our community that we offer as many opportunities for our young people to experience the trades in hopes that they will be inspired to make a career in the trades. And we as the trades community need to be active in this process, stepping up where we can because it will help us too.”
By June 2023, the Foundation had successfully raised $1.5 million, a testament to the community’s unwavering support for education that extended beyond traditional academic realms. Over the summer the Foundation stayed in communication with Endeavour Fund and by the fall, Endeavour decided they were all in and that they would match their original gift of $1 million, bring their total contributions to the project to be $2 million!
The dream of a state-of-the-art CTE building, equipped with cutting-edge facilities, was now becoming a reality, “Without the generosity of philanthropists like The Endeavour Fund, projects like building a new structure for our students wouldn’t be possible or at least wouldn’t be possible as quickly. We are excited to support VPS in bringing this opportunity to our students and if all goes well, we will be opening this center for our students in the fall of 2024!” mentions Jenny Thompson.
This purpose-built facility will not only provide ample space for hands-on learning but also serve as a beacon for aspiring students in Vancouver. With modern workshops, advanced equipment, and dedicated instructors, the CTE project supported by the Endeavour Fund is set to transform vocational education in the city.
As the construction process has progressed, excitement is rippling through the community. Students are eagerly anticipating the chance to explore their passions in an environment tailor-made for their success. Parents are reveling in the prospect of their children gaining practical skills that would set them on a path to meaningful careers. The collaboration between VPS, the foundation, and the Endeavour Fund is becoming a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to invest in the future. The story of the CTE project in Vancouver not only showcases the power and need for education, but also emphasizes the importance of partnerships that bridges the gap between vision and reality. To find out more about how CTE plays a roll districtwide, visit the VPS website.