Ideal Group: Leading Through Community EngagementFebruary 2, 2017
Thanks to a vision in 1979, Ideal Group CEO Frank Venegas Jr. wasted no time selling a Cadillac he won at a raffle during a Livingston County Builders Gala for capital to start his manufacturing and construction company.
Now, 30 years later and with more than 1,500 students assisted – Venegas, a Chamber board member, has a renewed vision: continue supporting the Southwest Detroit neighborhood and community, home to his company since 2000.
“We care about our community,” said Venegas about his commitment to students and families in Southwest Detroit. “When we relocated back to Detroit we had to show that it was more than a business move, it was personal. We had to teach our people that education is important and achievable.”
To date, Ideal Group has also employed more than 50 formerly incarcerated members of the community. The commitment is just a small portion of the family of companies’ total investment in bettering the lives of those in Southwest Detroit.
“We care about these children because I remember what it was like when we first got here,” said Venegas about the drastic improvement of the neighborhood. “I have had conversations with gangbangers and drug dealers. We listened and gave them what they wanted – jobs and opportunities and we are proud of that.”
MORE: Read how John James, a former Chamber board member, has also invested greatly in Southwest Detroit.
With a passion for seeing students succeed, Ideal Group, along with a number of other entities helped to reestablish a high school in Southwest Detroit, formerly known as Holy Redeemer High School, now called Detroit Cristo Rey High School.
Earlier this year, the Ideal Group sponsored the creation of new STEM classrooms in Holy Redeemer Grade School to encourage manufacturing and cultivate a deeper interest in the STEM field.
Both classrooms underwent extensive renovations with the installation of 16 training tables, four Lego tables, new furniture and a number of educational games.
“We were proud to be a part of giving these kids something new, they have infectious personalities and attitudes,” said Venegas. “We made sure when they came back from break they would be able to enjoy a new place to create, build and explore.”
Ideal Group has spent more than $1.5 million in its partnerships with Detroit Cristo Rey High School, Holy Redeemer, Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy. Additionally, the company provided jobs to Detroit youth as part of Mayor Mike Duggan’s Grow Detroit Young Talent initiative.
The dual enrollment and work study programs have helped more than 700 students graduate from Cristo Rey while receiving a quality education and foundation to impact the world around them according to Venegas.
“I care that these students get real-world experience while achieving in the classroom,” he said. “These kids light up a room and have such a great future ahead of them – being a part of that is special.”
Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.
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