Largest individual gift in College’s history will fund new skilled trades accelerator 

(London, Ontario) – Fanshawe College is announcing a donation of $2 million from London’s Crich family. This is the largest individual donation in the College’s history, and will create the new Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator, housed at Fanshawe’s London Campus.

The Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator will be an entrance point for all members of the community to learn more about trades and share employment opportunities. The space is named for Don Crich, founder of Auburn Developments, TerraCorp Management, Auburn Homes and Stonerise Construction, who passed away in 2015. Mr. Crich was passionate about construction and was a mentor to many people who wanted to work in the trades. He was eager to provide advice and he encouraged others to learn a trade and to start their own businesses. 

The idea for the skilled trades accelerator was first sparked by Mr. Crich’s daughter, Karen, who sat on the Fanshawe College Foundation Board of Directors from September 2014 to August 2020, and passed away in 2021.

“The opportunity to partner with Fanshawe College to celebrate my father’s legacy while simultaneously creating a unique space to support trades education in our community is extremely important to our family.” says Jamie Crich, president of Auburn Developments. “My sister, Karen, recognized it can be challenging for people who are interested in skilled trades to get started, and she saw community colleges as the link to helping people get into the field.”
There is a critical demand in today’s labour market for people who are trained in skilled trades. The supply of workers is shrinking, and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 10 to 20 per cent over the next eight years. Fanshawe has more than 40 programs focused on skilled trades and apprenticeship, with more than 5,000 students studying in apprenticeship programs each year.
“We are so grateful to the Crich family for their generosity and commitment to skilled trades education,” says Fanshawe College President, Peter Devlin. “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.”

The Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator will be linked to the larger “Innovation Village” space at the centre of Fanshawe’s London Campus which will house large presentation space for industry fairs and employer recruitment events. It will also feature smaller spaces that can be used by members of the trades community to meet with students, run smaller events, showcase employment opportunities and host mentorship and project work for students enrolled in trades programs across Fanshawe. 

Innovation Village, along with the new state-of-the-art Welding Lab completed in spring 2022, represent an investment of over $60 million made by the College to upgrade and reimagine skilled trades educational spaces to meet the critical labour market shortages in our community.

The Don Crich Skilled Trades Accelerator is expected to open in spring 2023.