CALABASAS, Calif.— Harbor Freight Tools for Schools announced it will award more than $1 million in cash prizes to outstanding public high school skilled trades teachers and programs, doubling the amount awarded for last year’s Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

The 2018 prize will honor 18 public high school skilled trades teachers and their programs with $1 million in cash awards. Three first-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to the high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. The 15 second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to the high school program and $15,000 to the teacher/team.

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools that inspires students to learn a trade that prepares them for a career after high school. The inaugural prize awarded more than $500,000 in prizes to three first- and seven second-place winners. It drew nearly 700 applications from 48 states from a wide range of skilled trades instruction, including automotive technology, welding, carpentry, agriculture mechanics, advanced manufacturing and marine systems technology. 

“We were overwhelmed by the response and the extraordinary pool of applicants last year and wanted to award more money to more skilled trades teachers to advance the important work that they’re doing in our public high schools,” Smidt said. “These inspiring educators are passionate about teaching their students life skills and trades skills they can take beyond the classroom and into solid careers, many right out of high school, that will help drive our economy.”

The prize is designed to recognize outstanding skilled trades instruction and give teacher applicants access to ideas and practices through a network of like-minded exceptional educators. The digital application for the prize solicits creative responses to a series of online expert-led video learning modules designed to help skilled trades teachers be more effective in the classroom.

“This is not a traditional teaching prize,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “We are looking for teachers who are not only accomplished skilled trades educators in teaching and inspiring their students but also are lifelong learners themselves, seeking to continuously improve their classroom practices.”

The need for skilled trades professionals in the U.S. is urgent and growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2024, there will be more than 1.5 million skilled trades job openings as Baby Boomers retire.

For more information and to register, visit Applications open on May 16 and are due July 6, 2018. The applicants with the top 50 scores will be announced as semi-finalists on Aug. 15, and the first- and second-place winners will be announced on Nov. 15. Updates on the prize will be posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Each round of winners will be selected by separate panels of judges. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools does not select the first- or second-place winners.