Welcome to the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2019 Prize for Teaching Excellence.
  • What is the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence?

    1. More than $1 million will be awarded to outstanding public high school skilled trades teachers and their classrooms. Three first-place prizes of $100,000 will be awarded--$70,000 to the public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the eligible individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. Fifteen second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000--$35,000 to the public high school program and $15,000 to the eligible teacher/team. Applicants whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings may still apply. See 2019 Prize Rules and Eligibility for further information.
    2. This is the third year of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence (or the “Prize”) and we expect to offer this competition annually.
  • Who funds the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence?

    1. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a philanthropic program of The Smidt Foundation, and is not part of Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc. (or “HFT”), the national tool retailer.
    2. All cash awards to prize-winning teachers and schools come solely from The Smidt Foundation.
    3. HFT provides operational support to The Smidt Foundation and donates tools and gifts cards in conjunction with the Prize. For more information regarding the roles of The Smidt Foundation and HFT with respect to the Prize, please email us at prize@hftforschools.org.
  • Who is eligible to compete for the Prize?

    The Prize is open to skilled trades teachers who are current faculty members at U.S. public high schools. See 2019 Prize Rules and Eligibility for further information.

  • What other benefit is there to applying for the Prize besides the money?

    Beyond the prize earnings, every applicant will gain access to powerful ideas and practices, shared through a series of online expert-led learning modules, to help them be even more effective in the classroom.

  • How do you define “skilled trades”?

    Eligible applicants are those who teach skilled trades classes that emphasize the expert use of tools and materials to build or repair products and structures, and which lead to high-demand and high-wage careers. While not an exhaustive list, the large majority of eligible applicants will come from the following broad fields of trades education in public high schools:

    • Agriculture Mechanics
    • Carpentry
    • Construction
    • Electrical
    • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    • Manufacturing
    • Plumbing
    • Transportation mechanics and repair
    • Welding

    This list is meant to guide you, but if you have additional questions about whether your program qualifies you to apply, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We know high school courses within these broad categories have a wide variety of names, areas of focus, and sub-specialties (ex. Green Construction, Marine Systems Technology, Diesel Mechanics, Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing). We seek those programs where there is literal hands-on learning, doing, building, and/or repair.

  • I applied for the Prize in 2017 and/or 2018 but was not selected as a first or second place winner. Can I apply this year?


  • I am a public elementary or middle school teacher or a community college instructor or I teach the skilled trades at a private school. Am I eligible?

    No. We know there is great need everywhere, but Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is focusing our efforts on skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. Teachers at district Career and Technical Education centers serving both secondary and postsecondary students may apply if they are concurrently also members of a U.S. public high school faculty.

  • Do I have to be nominated in order to apply?


  • Should I register with my work or personal email?

    We recommend that you register with your personal email, often due to school’s email security systems.

  • Who can be part of the application team?

    1. This application process is designed for individual teacher applicants or teacher teams from the same school. While you may ask advice from whomever you would like, you/your team’s answers should reflect your own ideas and be written by you/your team.
    2. A team can have up to three skilled trades teachers, who are faculty members of the same public high school.
    3. Teacher aides, grant writers, or non-skilled trades faculty members are not eligible to apply or receive the individual prize award and should not write the application.
  • Can I submit extra photos, videos, or testimonials in support of my application?

    No. The application process is designed to be standardized so that everyone is evaluated fairly and with the same information.

  • What’s the application deadline?

    1. Round 1 applications are due on Monday, June 17, 2019, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
    2. For semifinalists, Round 2 applications are due on Thursday, August 16, 2019, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
  • When will the semifinalists and winners be announced?

    1. Semifinalists will be announced on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.
    2. First and second place winners will be announced on Thursday, October 24, 2019.
  • Where can I find the Prize rules?

    The 2019 Prize Rules and Eligibility requirements can be found here.

  • I am experiencing technical or registration difficulties. Who should I reach out to?

    Please email us at prize@hftforschools.org or call at 424-363-1783.