About the Prize
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence®
$1.5 Million in Cash Prizes for 25 High School Skilled Trades Teachers
The prize is an annual award recognizing outstanding skilled trades teachers in U.S. public high schools. The prize is designed to shine a light on excellent skilled trades education and build a network of exceptional trades teachers. The most recent application deadline was May 5, 2023. Applications will be open again in March 2024.
Mar 15, 2023
May 5, 2023
Jun 13, 2023
The Impact of the Prize
A recent independent evaluation of the prize found that it has had dramatic impact on the teachers and schools that win, including increased enrollment, donations and collaboration with local businesses.
High Level FAQs
The prize is an annual award recognizing outstanding skilled trades teachers in U.S. public high schools. The prize is designed to shine a light on excellent skilled trades education and build a network of exceptional trades teachers.
In 2023 a total of $1.5 million in cash prizes will be awarded to 25 outstanding skilled trades teachers and their programs in U.S. public high schools. Five grand prize winners will each receive $100,000, with $30,000 awarded to the teacher and $70,000 awarded to their program. An additional 20 winners will each receive $50,000, with $15,000 awarded to the teacher and $35,000 awarded to their program. Due to school, district and/or state policy regarding individual cash awards, the schools of some winners will receive the entire prize winnings.
The prize is awarded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of The Smidt Foundation, which was established by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder, Eric Smidt.
No. There is not a nomination process. Teachers apply directly for the prize.
The application period for the prize typically starts in March. This year applications opened March 15.
The deadline to submit a round one application is typically in the month of May. In 2023, the round one application was due May 5.
The application is designed for individual teacher applicants. Teachers must be employed as a skilled trades teacher at a U.S. public high school.
Yes. We encourage past applicants to try again. Many of our winners applied multiple years before winning.
More detailed FAQs, including details about eligibility, are featured on our prize website at:
View Prize Pages
More than 100 teachers and their programs have won the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence® since 2017. We are inspired by their stories and know you will be too. Please take a moment to learn about these outstanding teachers.
“The (prize) means so much to me, my students, and the Kalama community. The (prize) funds are really going to have a positive impact on my program and community. However, I’m going to enjoy this moment as it is definitely the highlight of my career and such an incredible honor.”
Cory Torppa, Kalama High School
“All of the questions and essay prompts were so applicable to my teaching. It has brought about ‘This is how I should do things in class to hopefully become a better teacher. That was important to me.”
Kathryn Worley, West Hills High School
“Winning the prize has had a huge impact on myself, as well as the school. Our program was recognized as a leading program, so the community was very proud…And it has allowed us to really modernize our program.”
Dennis Johnson, Fallbrook Union High School