Smidt started the discount hardware store Harbor Freight Tools at 17 with his dad in 1977 and graduated high school through work-study. The venture paid off. Smidt, the CEO of the company, now has an estimated net worth of nearly $3 billion.
Smidt’s effort aims to get young people engaged with the trades even earlier, when they’re still in high school. The initiative is awarding this year’s Prize for Teaching Excellence, totaling $1 million, to 18 high school teachers. The three first-place winners will receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to the skilled trade programs at their schools, and $30,000 that each teacher can keep. For second place, 15 teachers will bring home $50,000, with $35,000 distributed to their schools and $15,000 for themselves.
Smidt has sponsored similar prizes through Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, an initiative run through his Smidt Foundation. The foundation last reported assets just shy of $100 million on its 2017 tax forms.more » « less