Started in 2004 by local manufacturing entrepreneur Chris Salow, The Shop Rat Foundation grew from Salow's recognition of the increasing need for employees with hands-on skills along with the shortage of relevant programming available for youth to explore these careers. Chris took action and began opening his shop on Saturday mornings for youth to explore the manufacturing industry and develop career driven skills. In the 15 years since, the Shop Rat Education Program has grown from 15 students to nearly 2,000 youth enrolled in grades 6-12 annually. With its mission to ignite interest in manufacturing and professional trades careers among youth through innovation and outreach, The Shop Rat Education Program is composed of hands-on in-school curriculum, community advocacy activities (such as Manufacturing Day) and extra-curricular classes and camps focused on construction trades, engineering, precision machining and welding. Programs are offered in Jackson, Livingston, Hillsdale, Eaton, Ingham and Livingston Counties.
Through these offerings, the Shop Rat Foundation works diligently to cultivate the skilled workforce Michigan manufacturers need, as well as influence the conversation regarding post-secondary education and career readiness. One point of pride for the Shop Rat Foundation is that 82% of students who participate in a Shop Rat Education Program extra-curricular program will enroll in subsequent manufacturing and trades focused programs offered within Shop Rat or by local partners, with many continuing on to community Career and Tech Centers, Early Middle College programs, apprenticeships, manufacturing focused bachelors degree programs and employment at area companies.
Access for youth and their families to these opportunities is of pinnacle importance to the Shop Rat Foundation. In its commitment to this priority, tuition rates are kept at 50% or less than the actual cost per student, financial assistance is available to those in need, programs are held at numerous locations throughout the community, and in-school curriculum is offered at no-cost to the school. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Shop Rat Foundation’s efforts to make a difference for the communities served and build the workforce of tomorrow.
Igniting interest in manufacturing careers among youth through innovation and outreach.
Become the premier hands on skills curriculum partner to 6-12 educational institutions, community groups and affiliated industry associations throughout North America.