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About Us

We are a charitable initiative of The Smidt Foundation established by Eric Smidt, Harbor Freight Tools CEO/co-founder, and grounded in deep respect for the dignity of the skilled trades and people who work with their hands.

Why Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

The need for excellent skilled trades education in public high schools is pressing- offering opportunity, boosting graduation rates, paths to good jobs and a talented workforce our country needs.

Our Core Values


We are part of the community; we believe in participating and giving back.

Doing the Right Thing

Growing opportunity is the right thing.


We are respectful; good listeners. We want to learn, share, and contribute.


We want to make a real difference with our dollars and time.


We believe in the wisdom and power of great partnerships.

Excellence in Execution

We greatly value the sweat and hard work involved in making things happen.

Continuous Improvement

We always look to improve, and data is a handy tool to track progress.

The Platinum Standard

What are the elements of excellence in skilled trades teaching and learning in American public high schools?


Start With a Terrific Teacher Who…


Loves the subject matter, students and their possibilities.

Is highly skilled, knowledgeable, and able to teach and adapt approved curriculum.

Is supported by their colleagues, principal, and policy; with competitive compensation; by a community of practice.

Seeks opportunities to learn and refresh skills.

Is valued by and deeply engaged in the community.


Then Match Teachers With Curriculum Relevant to Students’ Career Pathways and Future Work Choices

And seamless synergy to next-step options, including employers, community colleges and universities;

A safe, modern space in which to experiment and build, with modern equipment and tools;

Teacher-student ratios enabling hands-on learning by students, in teams and solo, with meaningful supervision and coaching;

Students who are connected and learning outside of school, with guidance from a skilled tradesperson, with opportunities to showcase skills and knowledge;

Students who have apprenticeships or internships, formal and information, and optimally paid;

Resulting in all students gaining a high school diploma and an industry recognized credential, and thus, opportunity and choices for the future.

The Platinum Standard was created to help anchor and guide Harbor Freight Tools for Schools as it evolves.

It was gleaned from ACTE research (2016/17) that amalgamated nearly two dozen different sets of success indicators and was reviewed by our advisors at the October 2016 advisor meeting.

Download Platinum Standard Graphic

Inspired by the trades: the evolution of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

Combining entrepreneurship and determination with humility and respect.

Skilled trade educators and sector leaders help guide our work and keep it grounded.