About the Prize

Welcome to the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence.
  • Who we are
    Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of the Smidt Foundation, is dedicated to the advancement of skilled trades education in America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, this program was created to foster and shine a light on excellence in skilled trades education in public high schools. Believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs, and a workforce our country needs, we aim to stimulate greater understanding, support, and investment by public entities and others in skilled trades education. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program.
  • About the prize
    The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, first launched in 2017, recognizes outstanding skilled trades educators and programs in public high schools in the United States. Like the skilled trades, the prize application and process requires hard work, time, focus, and a commitment to excellence.

    We define an excellent program as one led by a teacher…
    ● Who clearly loves the subject matter and is both highly knowledgeable and skilled;
    ● Implementing curriculum matched to a relevant career pathway and future work choices, one designed to flow seamlessly into next-step options, whether to employment or college;
    ● Encouraging exploration and experimentation among students in a safe environment; and
    ● Connecting students to new relationships and worlds outside the classroom.

    In 2018, we will award $1 million in prizes overall: There will be three first-places prizes of $100,000, with $70,000 going to the public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 going to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher teams behind the winning application. Fifteen second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 to the public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or teacher team. Applicants whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings may still be able to apply. Please see Special Note in the Eligibility section below for further information.

    Every teacher who applies for the Prize for Teaching Excellence will gain access to powerful ideas and practices, shared through a series of expert-led learning modules available for free, to help them be even more effective in the classroom. Our goal, like theirs, is to help students flourish. These learning modules, the core of the application process, will later be shared on our website (https://harborfreighttoolsforschools.org/), free and available for educators everywhere to draw upon.

    And there are other winners—your community. By celebrating the best in skilled trades education, we intend to show there are many ways to use your head and hands, and many promising paths to success in life in addition to attending a four-year college.

    Semifinalists will be announced on August 15, 2018.

    First and second place winners will be announced on November 15, 2018.

    If you have any questions, please contact our team at prize@hftforschools.org or call at 818-836-5280.
  • Eligibility
    The 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence is open to skilled trades teachers who are current faculty members at U.S. public high schools.

    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:
    ● Automotive mechanics and repair
    ● Carpentry
    ● Construction
    ● Electrical
    ● HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    ● Plumbing
    ● Welding

    This list is meant as a guide, 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-specialty (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.

    Teams of up to 5 skilled trades teachers at one U.S. public high school are allowed to apply together under a single joint application. Nominations are not required in order to apply.

    Teachers at district Career and Technical Education centers serving both secondary and postsecondary students may apply if they are concurrently also members of the high school faculty. This application process is designed for individual teacher applicants or teacher teams from the same school. If you are considering applying with a teacher from a different school, please contact us before the application deadline at prize@hftforschools.org or 818-836-5280. 
        

    Special Note 

    Before beginning your application, we ask you check your school, district, and state policy regarding the potential receipt of prize money as individual(s). If your school, district, or state policy does not permit you as an individual or team to receive the individual portion of prize earnings, please review the specifics and then check the box on the application noting that you/your team are applying on behalf of your school and that all potential prize money should be directed to your school’s skilled trade program, and not to you/your team. This election will not be used as a factor in the judging process.


    First and Second place winners of the 2017 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence are ineligible to apply for the 2018 prize. 2017 prize semifinalists and other applicants are allowed to apply for the 2018 prize.

    The following persons are also ineligible to apply for the 2018 prize:
    Directors, officers and employees of The Smidt Foundation (the ""Foundation""), Harbor Freight Tools USA, INC. (“HFTUSA”), and/or any of their respective affiliates; immediate family members of directors and officers of the Foundation, HFTUSA, and/or any of their respective affiliates; immediate family members of employees of the Foundation, HFTUSA, and/or any of their respective affiliates; any contributor of more than two percent of the total contributions and bequests received by the Foundation in any taxable year, or family member of such contributor, or, if the contributor is an entity, then any person who owns more than twenty percent of such contributing entity, or family member of such person; and senior government officials.  Harbor Freight Tools for Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.
  • How to apply
    The first step is to register.
  • To register as an individual
    To register as an individual, you must:
    1. Click on the “Register” link on the homepage.
    2. Please complete the information on the registration page. We highly recommend that you register with a personal email account (ex. Gmail or Yahoo) and then click on “Submit.”
    3. You will receive an email from the system which contains a link you must click on to validate your email address. For security reasons, this link expires in seven days. If you do not receive the return email from our team, please check your spam folder to see if it is there. If not, please email us at prize@hftforschools.org to ask us to verify your account.
    4. After you click to validate your email address, you will be directed back to the Login page. You can then log into the system with the same validated email address and the password you created to begin the application process.
    5. Please make sure to hold onto your password and sign-in email until the prize application window opens on May 16, 2018.
  • To register as a team
    The first person to register will follow the instructions in the "To Register as an Individual" section above, and is considered the “Team Leader” by the system. Once you have logged in, you can invite other people to your team.

    1. The team leader should go to the “Teams” page in the application.
    2. Add team member names and emails.
    3. You may personalize the invitation if desired and then send it.
    4. Each team member invited will receive an email with a link. By clicking on this link, they will be taken to a registration page. Once they fill out the required information, they will click “Submit” and be able to log in as an official team member.

    While only the Team Leader can submit the final application, team members will have access and can write and edit the team application. Please note that role of “Team Leader” can be transferred by the “Team Leader” to another active Team Member if they choose to do so.
  • The second step
    To apply, you must:
    1. Complete the required information on the application page. The system has autosave that will save an application every minute while you are active. You’ll be timed out of the system after 60 minutes of inactivity.
    2. You can also click ""Save and Preview"" at the bottom of the page at any time to manually save your entry. If there are still required fields that are blank, you will receive a message that you cannot submit until all required fields are completed.
    3. If you are ready to submit and click ""Save and Preview"", you will be able to preview your application one last time. You can then either click ""Submit"" to officially submit your application, or you can click ""Back"" to return to editing your submission.
    4. After submitting your entry, you will see a confirmation timestamp on screen and a link where you can download your entry as a PDF. You will also receive an email that your entry was submitted.
  • A few other notes
    Regardless of when you register, the application window opens to all on May 16, 2018.

    We assume that teacher or teacher teams will prepare applications on their own time and with their resourcefulness and resources. If you have any questions about whether you can use school time to work on your application, please consult your school/district policy. 

     Please note that once a teacher or teacher team submits the application, it cannot be recalled or worked on again. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools may require the applicant to provide additional information in support of this application. Upon submission or your application, you agree that:
    ● Your application will become the property of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, and will not be returned to you; and
    ● Your application materials may be disclosed, publicized or included in Harbor Freight Tools for Schools’ publications and resources.
  • One Important Item for Applicants and Would-Be Applicants

    You'll see that the digital application begins with a "Special Note" asking you to review your school/district/state policies to determine if individuals are permitted to receive Prize funds, and to do so before you continue on with the application.

     
    For those cases where individuals are prohibited from receiving Prize winnings, we included an option in the application for a teacher/teacher team to direct all prospective Prize winnings to their school programs and none to themselves. There's a box to check if this applies to you/your team. We created this option to maximize the opportunity for public high school skilled trades teachers across the country to be eligible to participate and to share their teaching and learning successes and hopes.   

    If your school/district/state policy does indeed permit you to receive individual prize earnings and you/your team erroneously checked the box on the application (intended only for those prohibited) directing all prize winnings to your school and none to you/your team, we will ask you to correct this should you be named a semifinalist and advance to Round 2.


  • How the winners are chosen
    Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is looking for the most passionate, skilled teachers who lead programs matched to a relevant career pathway for students and whose approach to teaching encourages exploration and experimentation by students in a safe environment, connecting them to new relationships and worlds outside the classroom.

    The application asks you to share a bit about your own background and teaching experience, why you do what you do. You then will be asked to go through a series of “learning modules”—short readings and videos—and share how the ideas presented connect to your teaching practice.

    The prize is meant to recognize skilled trades programs with a proven record of performance. It is not a grant to fund new programs.

    Semifinalists and first and second place winners will be chosen by panels of judges drawn from diverse worlds including education, skilled trades, community development, business, philanthropy and the arts. Judges for the final round will be posted on the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools’ website in the autumn of 2018.
  • Prize awards
    In 2018, we will award three first-places prizes of $100,000, with $70,000 going to the public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 going to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher teams behind the winning application. Fifteen second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 to the public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or teacher team. Applicants whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings may still be able to apply. Please see Special Note in Eligibility section above for further information.

    We expect that all prize winners submitting the required documentation will receive their checks before the end of the calendar year.

    Schools are required to direct the funds to further support the winning skilled trades program. Teachers are free to use their prize money as they would like.
  • Round 1 Applications

    Friday, July 6, 2018
    5 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Semifinalists Announced

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018
  • Round 2 Applications

    Wednesday, September 5, 2018
    5 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Winners announced

    Thursday, November 15, 2018