Crich family makes largest donation in Fanshawe’s history

Peter Devlin and members of the Crich family in front of a Fanshawe College backdrop. CREDIT: BEN HARRIETHA
The $2 million donation from the Crich family will go towards an accelerator program supporting the skilled trades.

Fanshawe College has received a donation of $2 million from London’s Crich family, the largest in the college’s history. The donation will go towards the new Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator, which will be located at Fanshawe’s London campus.

The accelerator will be a point for members of the London community to learn about the trades and any employment opportunities in the London-Middlesex region. The space is named in honour of Don Crich, the founder of Auburn Developments, TerraCorp Management, Auburn Homes and Stonerise Construction, who passed away in 2015.

“As local builders and developers, we understand first-hand the impact that a program like this can make to our industry and community,” Jamie Crich, the son of Don Crich and the president of Auburn Developments said. “Not only is the industry in dire need of skilled trades, but home affordability itself hangs in the balance. [Affordable housing] will not be achievable without more skilled tradespeople entering the workforce.”

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According to the College, positions in the skilled trades are expected to increase by 10 to 20 per cent over the next eight years. Fanshawe’s over 40 skilled trades programs and apprenticeships have over 5,000 students studying in these programs each year.

Crich added that the college already does a good job preparing people for work in the skilled trades, with the accelerator program only adding to what’s already offered. The idea came from Karen Crich, Don Crich’s daughter, who sat on the Fanshawe College Foundation Board of Directors from September 2014 to August 2020. She passed away in 2021.

“My sister had great vision for this initiative and Fanshawe was wonderful to deal with. They did a great job designing this program that's much needed.”

The program intends to open in late spring and will be linked to Innovation Village once it is completed, with a large presentation space for job fairs, along with smaller spaces that can be used for anything from smaller events, mentorship programs, and meetings between members of the trades and students.

“Whether you’re an industry partner, whether you’re a student seeking apprenticeship, whether you’re an employer, whether you're a school board, this would be that one-stop shop,” Stephen Patterson, the dean of the Faculty of Science, Trades, and Technology at Fanshawe College explained. “We’re able to access all of the trade services that exist around the province, which sometimes can be difficult for folks to navigate.”

As mentioned, the accelerator program is not only open to Fanshawe students, but to members of the community as well. No application or eligibility is required to take advantage of the accelerator once it launches.

“We expect to get all customers here and so it’s definitely not proprietary to Fanshawe students, although we certainly intend to serve them too.”

Fanshawe president Peter Devlin thanked the Crich family for the donation, saying that “skilled trades is what’s going to propel the region, the province and the nation powerfully into the future.”

“This is a dream come true, a gift like this is fabulous for student success,” Devlin explained. “This transformational gift will help create a new model of trades delivery across Fanshawe and in the community, providing the support needed to unlock the potential of people exploring careers in the skilled trades.”

This investment into skilled trades education at Fanshawe comes in tandem with both Innovation Village and the new welding lab that opened last spring. These all combine for an investment of more than $60 million to “upgrade and reimagine skilled trades educational spaces to meet the critical labour market shortages in our community.”