A Riverside-based vocational academy says it is closed permanently because of money problems related to the coronavirus crisis.

Vocademy — which teaches hands-on skills and practical knowledge in partnership with schools, private industry and other nonprofits — can’t afford to stay open due to the state order mandating business and school closures, wrote Gene Sherman, the nonprofit’s founder and CEO.

The academy partners with schools, and when those schools closed until next school year,  70 to 80% of Vocademy’s revenue was lost, Sherman said in an email.

“In addition, many of our current students did not wish to attend class and other potential community students told us they will not be signing up because of virus fears,” Sherman wrote. “We are a small business and, unlike a public school, our revenue does not come directly from educational funding.”

In Riverside and other locations, Vocademy taught woodworking, welding, laser printing and other vocational skills to students – and, outside of school hours, to adults.

“This has been my life’s mission for almost a decade and it breaks my heart,” Sherman wrote, adding that he is proud of his staff and instructors. “We have done a tremendous job of showing the value of hands-on skills education, supporting the maker movement, and we truly helped make people more valuable to the world.”

Sherman, who wasn’t immediately available to answer questions, said he reviewed all options but couldn’t find a way to stay open.

He said Vocademy was reaching out to students, clients, partners and vendors “on a case-by-case basis” and would do its best to meet their needs. People can contact him at info@vocademy.com or 951-266-6630, Sherman wrote.

Vocademy closed temporarily March 16 to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.

The permanent closure was effective March 20.



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