Bridgestone Americas Inc. is partnering with Akron Public Schools to create a hands-on classroom for students. The new Bridgestone Academy of Applied Engineering and Technology will include the opening of a Firestone Complete Auto Care store at the school district's learning center.
Bridgestone says the center will give up to 100 students access to its top-of-the-line technology, in addition to business practices on how to run a retail store. The school district, home to more than 21,000 students, will retrofit a portion of its existing automotive technology lab at the East Community Learning Center. Bridgestone will donate the materials, fixtures and point-of-sale systems. The site will feature a customer waiting area and equipment to service vehicles. Students will provide limited auto maintenance services for community members. All revenue generated will be reinvested into the program.
“The Automotive Technology program at East CLC has a long history of teaching students auto repair skills,” says Chadwick Groom, Akron's automotive technology teacher. “This collaboration with Bridgestone will strengthen our curriculum by providing students with more advanced training while learning about customer service and business fundamentals.”
Christine Karbowiak, chief administrative officer and executive vice president of Bridgestone says,
“This collaboration underscores our long-term, deep-seated commitment and ties to the Akron community and education in particular,” said Christine Karbowiak, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas. “The center reflects our dedication to educating the next generation of automotive and retail professionals, using the latest technology, operational procedures and business practices offered in our Firestone Complete Auto Care tire and automotive service centers.”
Bridgestone already has a similar program in Nashville, home of its U.S. headquarters. The Maplewood High School Automotive Training Center opened in 2015 with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Since the start of that collaboration, Bridgestone has hired 17 Maplewood graduates as store teammates and 12 as interns at Firestone Complete Auto Care locations in the Nashville region.
“We are grateful for the investment Bridgestone Americas has made in our students at East CLC,” says Akron Superintendent David James. “This collaboration marks another step forward in the transformation of APS high school education to College & Career Academies, providing all students with the opportunity to explore their world in greater depth and achieve success after graduation.”
Bridgestone will become a Named Academy Partner in the growing community of businesses engaging in the new College & Career Academies of Akron for APS high schools. In May 2017 the Akron school system was designated a Ford Next Generation Learning Community. Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, is supporting the transformation of public high schools into career-themed academies to better prepare students for college and professional success in today's competitive global economy.
The collaboration between Akron schools and Bridgestone was formed with the help of United Way of Summit County. The United Way is serving as a link between the College and Career Academies of Akron and local businesses to provide opportunities for students and strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline locally.