Funding Your Skilled Trade Training Program

Funding is a necessity to keep schools running with strong programs and updated equipment. While the bulk of most school’s funding comes from government grants, company donations can also be a key supplement to your program. A good way to organize your funding efforts is to go from national to local covering everything from the federal government to the dealership down the road.

Federal grants require a lot of work, but the payout makes them an essential source for most skilled trades schools. Here is a helpful list of grants available to a variety of programs from the Department of Education. It’s also important to keep an eye out for new initiatives. The Department of Labor is offering up to $100 million in grants for apprenticeship programs. Applications for that particular grant are due on April 30th.

How about your state government? There’s only one way to find out. Search your state’s website for programs around labor, education and workforce development. Often you’ll get the fastest results by picking up the phone.Skilled trade training equipment from donations

The next step is to consider your school’s potential employer partners. Corporate-sponsored programs can provide an essential infusion into your training program. Take Chabot College’s BMW program, for example. Chabot gets needed equipment for their program, and BMW ensures that their future employees are learning to work with their exact tools and equipment. Both sides strengthen a key partnership.

“I have a bridgeport that we should have paid $7K for, paid $1.5K. I should’ve paid $2K for a horizontal band saw that I got for free,” says Braham Area High School’s Luke Becker, who raised $65,000 in grants and donations last year.

Lastly, remember this rule: you can’t expect anything if you don’t ask. It’s best to ask for the specific items and amounts that you need, and explain how they will make the educational experience better for your students. This shows that you have the knowledge and planning to provide a top-level education, and the things you could use more of are materials, equipment, and funds.

“I had 9 companies write bigger checks than we were looking for,” says Becker.

If fundraising ever seems awkward or tedious, watch your students at work and imagine what they could do with the latest equipment or a course module on a growing industry sector.