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Lowe’s Grant Webinars

September 28th, 2012

SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a continuing partnership with Lowe’s for 2013. As part of its overall grant to SkillsUSA, Lowe’s will award grants to local chapters of up to $25,000 each to support classroom improvements, upgrade or provide tangible tools for learning technical skills, support leadership development opportunities, or provide for competition clothing that will give students the opportunity to compete at SkillsUSA events that would otherwise be unattainable. In support of chapters applying for grants, a series of webinars will be held to help chapters through the grant application process.

There will be two webinars held on October 2 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the webinar information is now online at: The deadline for applications is November 1, 2012.

Lowe’s Grant Webinars

September 14th, 2012

SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a continuing partnership with Lowe’s for 2013. As part of its overall grant to SkillsUSA, Lowe’s will award grants to local chapters of up to $25,000 each to support classroom improvements, upgrade or provide tangible tools for learning technical skills, support leadership development opportunities, or provide for competition clothing that will give students the opportunity to compete at SkillsUSA events that would otherwise be unattainable. In support of chapters applying for grants, a series of webinars will be held to help chapters through the grant application process. Get the details here: The deadline for applications is November 1, 2012.

Timberland Service and the Awards Ceremony

June 27th, 2012

For the past 11 years, Timberland PRO has hosted service events during our conference to provide students with hands-on opportunities. SkillsUSA students have applied their skills and provided direct benefit to the Kansas City community. This year, volunteers will have the opportunity to pack up food at the Kansas City region’s largest food bank, Harvesters, which provides food for assistance for up to 66,000 individuals every week. They can also choose to serve outdoors by planting fruit and nut trees to build a new urban orchard in downtown Kansas City. Thanks to all the volunteers for giving up sleep and relaxation time to serve others.

SkillsUSA University sessions finish up today as do the delegate meetings. The final votes will be cast for national officers today.

Also today, the annual blood drive, sponsored by the Kansas City Community Blood Center, will be in Bartle Hall 2105. Hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The National Courtesy Corps auction begins at 11 a.m. in Bartle Hall 2215C. Proceeds benefit the NCC.

Tonight, the conference reaches its peak of excitement with the awards ceremony. Seating begins at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Don’t forget, if you aren’t with us in Kansas City, you can watch the excitement online here: Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.

It’s going to be a great night!

Contests Begin, A Call to Action and the Opening Ceremony

June 25th, 2012

The first contests of the SkillsUSA Championships begin today. These are open to the public and begin at 8 a.m. Be sure and see your official conference program for times and locations. You can download a copy here.

At 8:30 a.m., be sure to attend my “Call to Action” session in the Marriott Downtown in the Count Basie Ballroom. Just take the escalator to the second floor and you can’t miss it.  Learn about SkillsUSA’s priorities, vision and CTE trends. You will also hear from Harvard University’s Bill Symonds on the need for CTE in education reform. This year’s Outstanding Educator Awards will also be presented. All instructors are invited to this session.

Beginning today at 10 a.m., be sure to check out SkillsUSA University for a great variety of educational seminars on the latests trends, new technology and best career opportunities. Sessions will run today through Wednesday.

At 10:30 a.m., don’t miss SkillsUSA’s Amazing Race. Participants will race through SkillsUSA TECHSPO to learn more about exhibitors and win prizes. Also look for “Free Money” giveaways in the form of gift cards from Best Buy and Lowe’s. Visit Municipal Auditorium and follow the signs to this exciting giveaway.

Today you can also “Meet the Candidates” running for slots to serve as your new national officers. And student officers should be sure to attend the special joint session of delegates today at 3 p.m.

Of course, the big show is tonight at Kemper Arena: The Opening Ceremony for SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. The keynote speaker is Chef Jeff Henderson. This is an exciting and motivational event. Don’t miss it! Special thanks to Robert Bosch Tool Corp. for supporting the 2012 Opening Ceremony. For those folks not in Kansas City, you can watch the ceremony live online at this link: Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.

Live Webcast from NLSC

May 31st, 2012

Once again, SkillsUSA will broadcast the pre-event activities and the entire opening and awards ceremonies online from the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. This live streaming video will give family, friends and sponsors the opportunity to watch the keynote speakers and see students as they receive their awards.

Please pass the word to advisors, students and family of conference attendees. The sessions will be broadcast here: SkillsUSA’s Web streaming from the NLSC is sponsored by Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Visits in North Carolina

April 1st, 2012

After attending an address by President Obama on March 7 in Mt. Holly, N.C., I was back in North Carolina on March 13 in Charlotte for meetings at Lowe’s. I had an hour-long meeting with new board member, Troy Dally. He agreed to serve on the governance committee.

While there, staff and I met with Joan Higginbotham, our new YDF member from Lowe’s and her community relations team. Their PR group attended briefly. This is an entirely new team at Lowe’s, so there were lots of questions about the Lowe’s grants. We also discussed Vision 2020 and how closely SkillsUSA aligns with their business. Joan told me SkillsUSA is in Lowe’s vision for future community relations/giving programs.

CTE Month and Highlights

March 1st, 2012

We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.

  • As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
  • Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
  • I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
  • Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
  • On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
  • Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link:
  • SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit:
  • Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
  •  We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.

* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”

* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.

* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.

Lowe’s Community Improvement and Community Rebuilding Grants

October 14th, 2011

SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a continuing partnership with Lowe’s for 2012. As part of their overall grant to SkillsUSA, Lowe’s will be awarding grants to local chapters of up to $25,000 each for Community Improvement and Community Rebuilding Grants implemented in 2012.

The Community Improvement: Champions Serving Others grant category is for those schools that are proposing a project that will focus on benefiting their local community or school. In choosing grant winners for the upcoming year, projects that focus on a local need vs. want will stand a greater chance of receiving funding. For this category, a maximum of $10,000 per grant winner will be awarded.

The Community Rebuilding: Reaching Out and Partnering grant category brings grant project opportunities to a new level in both funding and building leadership skills! Proposed projects in this category will combine the efforts of two SkillsUSA Chapters partnering and reaching out to a community or school that has been drastically affected by a natural disaster. One of the partnering chapters may be the beneficiary of the project. The maximum grant in this category will be $25,000. Community Rebuilding grant winners will be highlighted on stage at the 2012 NLSC closing ceremony with a video/photo presentation of their project.

Lowe’s will be reviewing the top applications, as submitted by a SkillsUSA staff committee, and selecting the chapters to receive the funding. Grant applications must be submitted by November 1, 2011. Notification of successful applicants will be in January of 2012. Projects may be implemented during the spring or fall semesters in 2012 and must be completed by November 30, 2012.

In addition, CareerSafe Online training vouchers to promote safety among technical students will again be available in 2012.

If you have questions on the grant program, please contact Lowe’s grants manager, Carol Lowery, at 641-512-0504 or 641-456-4515 or

For more information and to reach the application, go to the following:

Visit with Lowe’s in North Carolina

September 15th, 2011

We had a great meeting with Kelly Persons, Shannon Delp, Greg Palese and Troy Dally at Lowe’s on August 24. In addition to a discussion of how things went at this year’s national conference and initiatives for next year, we also had an extensive discussion of how to involve more vendor partners through the Championships, TECHSPO and “lunch and learn” sessions hosted by partners. Along those lines, Electrolux had four corporate representatives at a breakfast meeting with us. Kelly Persons encouraged their greater involvement in the Championships and to join the YDF. There were also outstanding presentations by two of our new student national officers: Victoria Holbert, high school division president and Diego Carvallo, high school division Region II vice president. There was a great dialogue session among the students and the Electrolux executives, and the students provided input throughout the meetings.


September 1st, 2011
  • Twenty-five states have registered for the Washington Leadership Training Institute. We’re working to secure speakers for the advisors’ track. I believe this will be another substantive series of sessions.
  • Alumni membership is now at 26,112 and the alumni now have a new page on the SkillsUSA website for archiving their series of professional development webinars.
  • At the Louisville conference, a new training tool kit for state student officers was introduced that was very well received. This kit comes in a large duffle bag packed full of tools to help officers conduct state and local workshops on the roles of SkillsUSA leaders and implementation of our Program of Work. The kit also includes props that will be purchased by state officer teams at their local Lowe’s Store. Lowe’s sponsored the development of this exciting new training tool.
  • The SkillsUSA, Inc. board of directors will be meeting on September 19 at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center during the Washington Leadership Training Institute. On September 20, the board will be going to Capitol Hill with our student leaders for Congressional visits. This will be an excellent opportunity for our students, in tandem with our governing body, to tell the SkillsUSA story to policymakers.
  • We are finalizing plans for the fall meeting of the Youth Development Foundation hosted by Air Products in Bethlehem, Pa. September 14-15. Special thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett who will be our host. We have 17 attendees registered and look forward to the meeting.

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