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John Perkins Jr. believes in the power of giving back. As someone who found his passion while helping construct the award-winning Little Caesars Arena, John understands that building structures can also be a platform for building careers.

John was born and raised in Detroit. His father, John Perkins Sr., was a self-employed carpenter who built affordable housing and laundromats in his east side community. 

In 2014, John became interested in following in his father’s footsteps. He started attending the Detroit Carpentry Apprenticeship School in Ferndale, Mich., and began taking night classes in construction management at Oakland Community College.

The following year, John began his apprenticeship with Toole’s Contracting. He was inspired by the construction of Little Caesars Arena, and repeatedly sought to work on the project.

Eventually, John’s persistence was rewarded. He became the youngest person working on site at Little Caesars Arena, and one of nearly 1,000 apprentices and pre-apprentices working at Little Caesars Arena and other construction sites throughout The District Detroit.  

In 2017, John earned his associate degree in construction management from Oakland Community College. In recognition of his hard work, he was invited to speak at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Little Caesars Arena on Sept. 5, which, John said, was “a huge deal for me and my family.” 

In that same year, John founded the Legacy Development Foundation with the goal of bringing pre-apprenticeship opportunities to the youth in the community.

“I was building a world-class arena for my city — rebuilding the city that built me,” John said. When John would run into old friends, he’d tell them about his new, exciting career in the skilled trades. 

“They’d say, ‘Wow, we’re from the same neighborhood and went to the same high school. How’d I not know about these opportunities?’” At that point, John said a lightbulb went off in his head.  “I realized I could go back to the neighborhood I’m from and the high school I went to, to present these opportunities and see them grow and succeed.”

John continues to be fueled by the passion of providing opportunities to others and following the strong example set by his father. 

Learn more about John Perkins and the Legacy Development Foundation in the video below.