Trades teacher contest with $1.5M in prizes kicks off

Dive Brief:

  • High school trades teachers can win big. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence is open for 2023, offering $1.5 million in awards for up to 20 winners across the country.
  • The program is run by Harbor Freight Tools, an equipment retailer based in Calabasas, California. This will be the seventh year of the prize.
  • The contest has awarded $6 million to over 100 skilled trades teachers and their programs. This year, the prize total increased from $1.25 million, and the number of winners increased from 20 to 25. The deadline to apply is May 5.

Dive Insight:

“From the beginning, our goal has been to serve as a catalyst to bring more attention and support to the exceptional skilled trades teachers and students across the country,” Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, said in an announcement. “We are excited for our seventh year of the prize and cannot wait to hear from new and returning applicants about the excellent work they are doing on behalf of students.”

Five grand prize winners will each receive $100,000, with $30,000 going to the teacher and $70,000 to their program. Twenty other winners will receive $15,000 for themselves and $35,000 for their program. 

The reduction in shop classes and focus on higher education has contributed to the continued labor gap in construction. Meanwhile, it’s vital to get in front of students early, said Cory Torppa, a winner of last year’s prize.

With 18 years of experience teaching construction, manufacturing and engineering high school courses, Torppa attended President Joe Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address as a guest of his Congressmember, Democrat Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

“It is important to provide the country’s youth the opportunity to experience different pathways to their future career options,” Torppa told Construction Dive, at the time. “Part of that is to expose them to the basics of the various options they have. Teaching the basics of the trades is essential for these students to begin to understand the pathway to a career in the trades.”

Leave a comment