Our Story

About Harbor Freight Tools for Schools®

The mission of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is to increase understanding, support and investment in skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools.


Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs, and a workforce our country needs.

  • The annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence® awards $1.5 million to 25 outstanding U.S. public high school skilled trades teachers and their programs. The prize recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades and the valuable work of teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation.
  • Prizewinners join a national network of skilled trades teachers who convene throughout the year, including Let’s Build It,® a four-day summer convening to share best practices and develop new ideas to advance high school skilled trades education.
  • Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has commissioned research studies to increase understanding of the current landscape of high school skilled trades education, how people feel about it and why it should be valued and supported.
  • Communications designed to increase understanding of the value of excellent high school skilled trades education. 
  • National Grants support non-profits with inventive strategies to advance skilled trades education in public high schools.
  • Pilot Projects and Community-Impact Grants illustrate how excellent high school skilled trades education can transform the lives of students, teachers and communities.
  • The Harbor Freight Leadership Lab®  is a partnership with Bendable Labs and is designed to boost the number and can-do effectiveness of leaders from the public, private, union and nonprofit sectors to deepen support for skilled trades education.
  • Since 2021, hundreds of students in Los Angeles County have earned high school and college credit and valuable industry-based credentials in automotive tech, carpentry, construction, solar installation and welding through summer programs funded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. The programs serve middle and high school students and recent graduates.

The Skilled Trades

The United States is facing a severe shortage of skilled trades workers. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is committed to investing in the next generation of tradespeople who will do this important work. We focus on skilled trades education programs in U.S public high schools that emphasize the expert use of tools and materials to build or repair products and structures. Our focus is on the skilled trades listed below:

Advanced Manufacturing

Agricultural Mechanics





Transportation Mechanics


About The Smidt Foundation

We support courageous people building,
repairing and keeping our communities safe.

The Smidt Foundation is a private foundation created by Eric Smidt, the owner and founder of Harbor Freight Tools. The foundation builds upon the Smidt family’s deep commitment to helping nonprofit organizations working to create opportunity, safety and wellbeing in Los Angeles and other priority communities. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is the foundation’s flagship program, and it reflects Eric Smidt’s deep respect for the people who build, repair and strengthen our communities.