These tools will help you manage your chapter effectively.

SkillsUSA Career Essentials

SkillsUSA Framework

Program of Work


Public Service Announcements

Public Service Announcements

Use of public service announcements is a great way to get free radio coverage of your chapter.

“Mike Rowe for SkillsUSA” Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

MikeRoweForSkillsUSA_BIGLongtime SkillsUSA supporter Mike Rowe, on behalf of his mikeroweWORKS Foundation, has joined with SkillsUSA to produce a new audio PSA that addresses the growing problem of the skills gap and positions SkillsUSA as a solution to that problem. Thirty- and 60-second versions are available at the links below.

Help us spread the word by contacting your local radio stations and encouraging them to add these PSAs to their rotation.

How? The easiest way is to find the station’s website and look for an email or phone contact for the station’s public service or PSA director. If you can’t locate that info, try the station’s general manager.

Next, send an email asking the contact to consider adding the PSAs to the station’s playlist. We’ve provided text you can use for the email in this Word document. Simply open the document, add your personal info where noted (look for the brackets), cut and paste the text into your email message and send. You may also want to follow up your message with a quick phone call.

That’s it! In just a short amount of time, you can help the SkillsUSA message reach thousands. Consider making this PSA promotion a chapter project and integrating it into your program of work. Email us with any questions and to let us know about your results.

Remember, SkillsUSA is your organization. Thanks for joining with us and Mike Rowe to help spread the word about the life-changing opportunities SkillsUSA is providing students across the country.

Mike Rowe for SkillsUSA :60 PSA (audio file)

Mike Rowe for SkillsUSA :30 PSA (audio file)

Video PSAs

Mike Rowe for SkillsUSA (PSA :60)

Mike Rowe for SkillsUSA (PSA :30)

Kayleen McCabe PSA

National television personality Kayleen McCabe has joined with SkillsUSA to create a public service announcement addressing the skills gap threatening our economy at the local and national levels.

Communications and Marketing

Use these resources to communicate with your members, supporters and media and to market your chapter to the community.

SkillsUSA Logos

Use SkillsUSA logos for your chapter website or letterhead. If you would like a custom SkillsUSA logo (such as SkillsUSA Riverdale High), use the SkillsUSA Logo Generator. You must follow SkillsUSA’s graphic standards to use official logos.

You can find all of that and more at the SkillsUSA Brand Center.

SkillsUSA Advocacy Site

You can contact your representatives or use this site to contact the media in your area about your chapter’s activities.

Ideas for Marketing Your Chapter

You know the value of SkillsUSA and all it does for students, but how do you communicate that effectively to a variety of audiences? How do you promote the relevance and successes of your SkillsUSA chapter and students? How do you create a demand for your program?

In a day and age when schools are cutting budgets, it is imperative that your technical program and SkillsUSA chapter stay front and center as much as possible. Successful marketing can be the difference that not only potentially saves your program, but also helps it thrive and grow.

Idea 1: Marketing SkillsUSA and Technical Programs


Winning Strategies For Marketing Your Program
By Thomas Washburn, SkillsUSA Advisor at Centennial High School, GA

Importance: Think back to when you decided where to go to college. What helped you decide? Was it cost, location, academics, family tradition or a combination of factors? Whatever it was, that school appealed to you.

SkillsUSA and technical programs are no different. Students, parents, administrators and industry professionals all have choices regarding where to invest their time and resources. As a teacher and advisor, you want to ensure that these key shareholders consider SkillsUSA, as well as career and technical education. To that end, it’s important to expose them to the program in a way that fosters an understanding of its value and helps students reach their potential.

How do you reach target audiences, and how do you make your program stand out? There are three primary factors that will help you:

  • Recognize that reputation and marketing go hand-in-hand. The stronger your program, the more marketing opportunities you will have. Build demand for your program.
  • View your SkillsUSA and technical programs interchangeable. Involvement in SkillsUSA is the leadership extension of the skills curriculum you’re teaching. By promoting membership in SkillsUSA, you will further advance your marketing objectives.
  • Approach your program like a business. Determine what makes it unique; put your students (your product) out in front; and whenever you have the chance to tell someone about your program, do it. The latter also includes building relationships. Just as relationships make or break a business, they can make or break your marketing efforts.
  • Keep in mind that marketing is an ongoing activity and there are always opportunities. Also, understand that marketing is a need, not a want. If you want your program to grow and your students to succeed, it’s an absolute necessity. Marketing = Influence.
How to Reach Them

Learn about your community and use all of your resources to tell the story:

  • Know the demographic you serve, and appeal to your audience
  • Put your students out in front; they are the story
  • Find out what interests your local news media
  • Research and pursue potential industry partners
  • Make it easy for administrators and other school leaders to learn about your program
  • Use the Internet, school newsletters, local media resources, parent organizations and anything else at your disposal to spread the word
  • Why It Works

Being involved with SkillsUSA, and career and technical education, provides timely and invaluable experience to the student population it serves. There is no better time than right now to provide students with knowledge and skill sets valued in the workplace. We are at the forefront of leadership and career development, which is essential in a challenging economic climate. When people hear our story and meet our students, they’re hooked.

Steps to Success

Step 1: Build relationships. Identify your target audiences and foster relationships with all of them (I have found that feeding people is always a great way to draw them in).

  • Participate in curriculum nights or similar events to showcase your program to incoming students
  • Create a mentor program for existing students to support incoming students
  • Host a breakfast or luncheon, with some of your students attending, for your school administrators and counselors at least twice a year (The more you inform them, the sooner they will become allies)
  • Create an advisory board with local businesses. Send a personalized letter with an RSVP card asking them to participate on the board, volunteer as a contest judge, or delegate this responsibility to someone else in their office. Host a catered dinner for those who respond
  • Invite parents to various events and activities, and promote student accomplishments through a parent newsletter or other form of effective communication
  • Invite guest speakers from the community on a regular basis (Not only does this create a network for your students, but it also exposes the speaker to your program)

Step 2: Make your classroom an adventure. Create demand for your class. Make it known from the beginning that your class is unique and exceptional. Not only will this benefit the class, but it will also present marketing opportunities. Some ideas:

  • Set up field trips with industry professionals to expose students to various careers
  • Create positive energy in the classroom by combining curriculum with life skills and leadership training, including study skills, interviewing techniques, writing thank-you notes, making proper introductions and creating an agenda. Build them up!
  • Promote membership in SkillsUSA by offering extra credit or professional development points through participation in various activities
  • Come up with unique classroom experiences based on career field (In my classes, we did a forensics experiment that tracked the decomposition of three pigs. We invited the science classes to join us.)
  • Provide opportunities for travel (I take a group to Washington, D.C. every year to meet a Supreme Court justice. It is planned well in advance to raise funds.)
  • Give students a vision, and keep them focused on their career path. Use championships, community service and other opportunities as a way for them to build their résumés

Step 3: Think outside the box. Be strategic with the promotion of your program. Personalize the message to ensure it has an impact:

  • Get to know your local media by finding out what kind of stories they like to cover and sending different photos and stories to different newspapers (I have one paper that likes local accolades and one that likes unique stories, so that’s what I send them.)
  • When promoting the value of your class and SkillsUSA to students, find facts relevant to them (Prepare a PowerPoint presentation on the value of education, showing how much a high school diploma is worth vs. a GED vs. a college diploma. Show them skills needed for their career interests.)
  • When talking to school officials, share the academic success and statistics of your students (I have students at Ivy League schools and military academies. Many are very successful legal and law enforcement professionals in the community. Nearly 100 percent have graduated and gone to college.)
  • Promote the diversity of your program to audiences, not just related to careers, but also to the student population and anything else that sets your program apart (My school has students from 56 countries, and my program reflects that diversity.)
  • Use language that everyone understands, and never assume anything — create messages for different audiences to reach them effectively
  • Keep in touch with alumni by sending them updates via email; many will come back to help you

Step 4: Use your students as your No. 1 marketing tool. Never promote yourself, always promote your students.

  • Use the school or your SkillsUSA website to promote student successes on a regular basis. This can include special projects, officer elections, championships and more
  • Set up a listserv consisting of guidance counselors from schools that feed into your program, then send them announcements of student successes on a regular basis
  • Have students, sharply dressed in their red blazers and well prepared, ready to volunteer at various school and community functions
  • If you have a student who’s “especially exceptional,” make the student the poster girl or boy for your program (I have a national officer who is one of my best marketing tools.)
  • Set up meetings for some of your best students with industry professionals; have students create questions before the meeting and write thank-you notes as soon as the meeting is over (My students do this with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and he is always impressed.)
  • Whenever there is a chance to tell the story in front of a large group of parents, administrators, the news media or industry professionals, have a capable student do it — this has much more impact

Idea 2: Business and Industry Appreciation Event

Recognizing the businesses and industries in your community is vital to establishing a strong working relationship with them. Hosting an appreciation event such as a breakfast, luncheon or dinner program allows SkillsUSA members to interact in a positive and professional way. SkillsUSA members will be able to connect with current and future employers outside the business setting, giving them the opportunity to network, converse and use business etiquette skills. If held at the school, it may also present the opportunity for guests to tour the classrooms, labs and shops that make up your total Skilled and Technical Science program.

Idea 3: SkillsUSA Week

SkillsUSA Week is the perfect time to shine the spotlight on your local chapter. By focusing your marketing energies during this specific week, you leverage the strength of simultaneous marketing efforts underway by the national organization and those within your state.

Idea 4: Parent Information Night

Hosting a parent information night is a great public relations activity to include in your SkillsUSA marketing activities. Parents are front-line program advocates and a great resource for volunteer and financial support. Parental and family involvement is also vitally important to the academic and career success of students.

Suggested Resources

Visit SkillsUSA's Educational Resources catalog online for more resources.

Brochures and Flyers

As a service to chapters, SkillsUSA has created some free downloadable promotional materials. Two versions of a SkillsUSA brochure are provided: a PDF download with national contact information, and a document in Word that can be downloaded and then personalized with your school information before printing.

Use these brochures to promote your SkillsUSA chapter during membership drives, open houses, community service projects, presentations or SkillsUSA Week. Have members hand them out to prospective members with a tuck-in note inviting them to a fall kick-off meeting or other event. Use these at club nights or local community events to get the word out about your local SkillsUSA chapter and what you are doing.

Informational Flyer (PDF)
Here is a handy, two-page color flyer great for a quick overview of SkillsUSA and the SkillsUSA Championships.

Brochures for Purchase

We hope the above free items will be helpful for your chapter. We also encourage you to purchase SkillsUSA brochures for industry networking or important events where a professional image is crucial. Please scroll to the bottom of the page for the brochure.

Why SkillsUSA? Student Brochures

Why SkillsUSA? Teacher Brochures

SkillsUSA Week

SkillsUSA Week is celebrated in February each year. Learn more!

Goodwill Visits to Business Partners

Goodwill Visits to SkillsUSA's Business and Industry Partners

Many instructors and their students understand the value of industry partnerships, but they may not know the exact steps to undertake in order to foster and build these relationships. These resources will help your chapter to plan and carry out a visit to industry during the school year.

What is a Goodwill Visit?

A Goodwill Visit is a brief, 20 to 30 minute informational visit to a local company in your community. During the visit, your SkillsUSA officers or members will explain the benefits and programs of SkillsUSA, tell about your technical program and ask questions about the company.

The purpose is to build awareness of SkillsUSA and technical education programs, and to learn more about the company and its needs for entry-level employees and whether there might be future job opportunities for SkillsUSA members. It also helps students to see the business environment and to better understand the work practices of the company. Further, it is a chance for students to practice employment skills such as public speaking, making introductions, handshakes and more.

A long-term purpose of a Goodwill Visit can also be to generate corporate support for your training program in the form of personnel, resources or financial contributions. However, it takes time to build relationships (months or even years).

Goodwill Visit Basics

Here are some basic steps to planning and carrying out a goodwill visit.

  1. Make a list of one or more companies that you would like to visit. Each company should meet the following criteria: they could employ your students, they market their product/services to your industry, or they typically support education and youth within your community.
  2. Visit the company website to learn more about them.
  3. Identify a person by name at the company to contact (call and ask for the name of the human resources manager or the education/training manager).
  4. Write a letter requesting a visit to the company by a small group of students (four to six officers or SkillsUSA members selected for this activity).
  5. Call the company to request an appointment, within a few days after sending the letter.
  6. Send a confirmation letter or email with the date and time of the appointment, the purpose of the meeting and whom you hope to meet (be sure to mention any special needs for your presentation, such as requesting a conference room, an LCD projector or a television and VCR).
  7. Develop and practice your presentation.
  8. Call to confirm the appointment one or two days before your visit.
  9. Arrive 15 minutes early for the appointment, and ask to be shown to your meeting room so you can set up for your presentation.
  10. Send a thank-you letter from the students, a few days following the meeting (be sure to include any follow up information that was requested).
  11. Invite representatives from the company to your training program for an open house, to assist with PDP evaluations, to judge a local contest or to attend your state conference.
  12. Follow up with a proposal for other assistance, but not until a meaningful relationship that benefits both sides has already been established

Chapter Fundraising

Fundraising is a key part of the SkillsUSA program of work. Without funds, it is hard to conduct most activities. In addition to helping to finance the local chapter, a fundraising activity can also provide many valuable learning experiences for students. From project management to forecasting profits, setting timelines, working in teams and being accountable for results, fundraising teaches many skills that will be needed on the job and in life.

There are many ways to raise funds for your chapter, from weekly donut or pizza sales to an annual health fair, car show, mulch sale, flea market, art show and other annual events. You can also team up with an established fundraising company to sell their products using their products and marketing materials. When possible, it is wonderful to incorporate the technical skills your students are learning as well as opportunities for students to speak to business partners and other adults. These are great ways to reinforce the skills being developed in the classroom.

To start, your chapter officers should work with you to determine a SkillsUSA budget for the school year to cover the costs of chapter activities, travel to competitions, official attire or contest uniforms, curriculum, equipment or other chapter materials. Next, determine what portion of the budget can be provided through student payment, a student activity fee or Perkins funding. The balance can then be raised through fundraising activities. Review your organization budget with your principal to be sure it aligns with school policy and procedure.

Student participation is an important factor in the management of money that will be raised for their benefit. Fundraising ideas should be approved by the whole chapter. And, all funds raised should benefit those students currently enrolled in your programs.

Chapter Fundraising Checklist

Below is a handy checklist for your fundraising activities:

  • Obtain a copy of your school policy regarding fundraising
  • Have students brainstorm ways to raise funds
  • Request approval of any contracts for goods or services
  • Be familiar with any school insurance available to protect against liability
  • Inventory merchandise to be sure you received what was ordered
  • Check with companies for their return policy of any unsold goods
  • Require strict accounting of all funds handled
  • Provide adult supervision for all fundraising activities
  • Establish clear timelines and deadlines for the fundraiser
  • Have students organize work teams so a few students don’t do all of the work
  • Plan for safety and monitor safe work practices during all activities
  • Employ a code of conduct for students who are participating
  • Have students implement good financial procedures
  • Assign one or two people to handle all receipts, expenditures and accounting
  • Establish deadlines for any money to be turned in
  • Require receipts for any chapter purchases
  • Require two signatures on checks if your SkillsUSA chapter has a checking account
Fundraising Ideas

Here are examples of fundraising activities conducted by local SkillsUSA chapters:

Brooke High School in Wellsburg, W.Va.

SkillsUSA members: 19
Amount raised: $200
Project summary: Sponsored an annual 70’s dance and we got over 110 people to show up. Everyone had a great time, but the most important part in planning a dance is ensuring you have a DJ who will work the crowd. The day was on Friday night from 7-10pm. We also asked our students to ask their parents about donating food for the concession stand. We were able to giveaway free food. The students organize and run the event. The teachers only helped with the concession stand. The funds raised will be used to buy a red blazer for our newly appointed state officer. The rest will be put in our state conference travel fund. The dance was a 150 percent total success. Next year, we are doing a 50’s dance, and we can’t wait.
Best Tips: Get a good DJ. It impacts your dance like no other influence. Also, don’t go overboard on decorating. And give away a prize, like best 70’s dressed.

Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma

SkillsUSA members: Unknown
Amount raised: $1,700.00
Project summary: We had penny war. We collected pennies to support Families who cannot afford christmas. Every penny counted as positive and a sliver counted as a negative. We raised 1700 dollars and supported 15 families.

Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia

SkillsUSA members: 6 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $1,400.00 annually
Project summary: The students in the welding class built propane cookers to sell. The cookers were designed and build by the students, and were sold to interested individuals for $200. The prototype was originally ordered by the school, to cook french- fries at high school basketball games. Once people saw what we could do, we perfected the design and the orders started coming in.
Best tip: Find out what is popular in your area and build on it. People around here love to cook fish so we built something to satisfy that need. Do the same and your club could prosper.

GrillingSouth Central College, North Mankato Campus in Minnesota recently held a Carhartt Grilling for Dollars event, reports Minnesota college president William Kramlinger. He is also his local chapter president.

SkillsUSA members: 295 members
Amount raised: $500.00
Project summary: Grilling for Dollars was used to raise money for Kids Against Hunger, a national organization that packages dry foods and sends them to impoverished countries around the world. This rice-soy-vegtable mixture is boiled in water and full of protien, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to a child’s development. It took about 20 people to make the fundraiser happen. A representative of Carhartt sent chapter banners, t-shirts and $250 for supplies. The Carharrt vendor, C&S Supply in Mankato, supplied the location and newspaper advertising. The college developed a press release and printed posters. The chapter provided the grill, crockpot and a display about the college and SkillsUSA. The group sold pop, chips and hotdogs, raising a total of $435, which is enough money to feed 1740 children through Kids Against Hunger.
Best Tip: During the event they divided volunteers between the grill, money handling, servers, and promoters to talk about SkillsUSA and Kids Against Hunger. The success came from getting media attention. The event was mentioned on radio, in the local newspaper and was also featured on the local news. Not only did the group raise money for their cause, but they also promoted SkillsUSA in the community. When they heard about the fund-raiser, MICO Inc., a local employer that manufactures and distributes hydraulic components and brake systems, donated an additional $3,000 to Kids Against Hunger, which is enough to feed more than 13,000 children.

Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia has held an annual citrus sale for the past 21 years.

They earn an average of $1400 per sale.
SkillsUSA members: 64 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $1,400.00 annually
Project summary: They inherited the sale from FFA in 1988, and have customers who’ve been buying for more than 30 years. They run the sale during the month of October. The funds raised are used for all SkillsUSA members to help cover competition fees and expenses. They also award two scholarships, one for a student going directly into the workforce and one for a student going on to higher education.
Best tip: We award a catered lunch from Chick Fil-A to the training program that sells the most boxes of citrus per student. The chapter officers take all of the sales order forms and put the information into an Excel spreadsheet, so it’s easy to keep track of who sold what. We were hoping this would encourage more people to participate. Keeping track on a progress chart (like a thermometer) so students can see how the sales are progressing is also encouraging.

The Career and Technology Education Center of Licking County (C-Tech) in Newark Ohio has held an annual craft show for the past 19 years, reports advisor Tina Hummel.

They earn an average of $9,500 each year including $5,000 for vendor spaces, $3,000 at the bake sale and $1,500 admission ($1 per adult shopper).
SkillsUSA members: 421 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $9,500 annually
Project summary: This is their only SkillsUSA fundraiser so all training programs and instructors take part. The funds are used to support all student travel to competitions at the regional, state and national levels as well as socials, popcorn days, medals, officer training, summer leadership camp and guest speakers. Students make all the baked goods that are sold at the craft show.
Best tip: They hold a spirit award contest the week of the craft show and programs compete against each other to earn one of the top eight spots and the first place traveling eagle trophy.

Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi holds an annual golf tournament at a local golf club, reports advisor Lourie Barnett.

Students and instructors help plan the event, which is held on a Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the winners announced at the end.
SkillsUSA members: 44 members, multiple training programs
Amount raised: $4,000 annually
Project summary: The school asks different organizations to sponsor a hole on the golf course at $100 per hole. Companies they do business with typically sponsor more than one hole. Funds raised are used for travel to SkillsUSA competitions in April and June
Best tip: Get all of the students involved

Jo Daviess Carroll AVC in Elizabeth, Illinois holds monthly food sales for students, says advisor Cathy Moon.

Students do the cooking and take orders as if they are in a restaurant. Their customers are both students and teachers.
SkillsUSA Members: 32 members, culinary arts
Amount raised: $150 to $300 per event
Project summary: They have two monthly food sales for students, offering breakfast and lunch, which gives students practice in customer skills, organizational skills, and a chance to handle money and give change. It takes about 2.5 hours per day, including set up, cooking, and clean up. Students run the whole event and they choose what type of breakfast items or entree, such as cheeseburgers and fries, to sell.
Best tip: After food costs are deducted, the money raised is evenly divided among the students, which they can then use towards their State Leadership Conference trip. They also apply funds to purchase supplies for contests such as Job Skills Demo A and Culinary Arts and Baking. Getting the students as involved as much as possible in the fundraising decisions is important. The ownership of the fundraisers gives the students the determination to them successful.

Russell County Career and Technology Center in Lebanon, Virginia sponsors a golf tournament each fall, says advisor Jennifer Fields.

They have a lot of assistance from the principal and teachers at the school, and serve a meal to the golfers after the tournament.
SkillsUSA members: 250 students and teachers
Amount raised: $2,500 annually
Project summary: They solicit hole sponsors and sell sponsor ads. They put up signs with the company names on each holes. Teams also pay to register. They give away nice prizes at the end of the day, which encourages participation by the community. The funds are used for activities within the SkillsUSA program. They also use the money to send students to district and state competitions.
Best Tip: Talk with other people who have done this type of activity before. It is a simple, effective way to make money for the organization.

Russell County Career and Technology Center in Lebanon, Virginia sells home interior candles as a SkillsUSA fundraiser, reports advisor Jennifer Fields.

SkillsUSA members: 250 students and instructors
Amount raised: $2,700 annually
Project summary: The candles are sold each October or November to friends, family members of students and to neighbors and church members. They use the funds raised to pay for their fall and spring socials, and to help cover travel expenses for competitions. They also have an end-of-year picnic for our members.
Best Tip: Give a prize to the top selling student. Chapter members are naturally competitive and will work harder to win a $50 prize.

Eastland Career Center in Groveport, Ohio has done magazine sales to support their chapter, reports advisor Rick Roberts.

This one fundraiser pays for all of their chapter activities, including travel to state and national conventions.
SkillsUSA members: 400 students and instructors
Project summary: They conduct a QSP Reader’s Digest magazine sale. Students are asked to sell a minimum of two orders. All students are involved and the fundraiser lasts about 10 school days. They hold this event annually in October and teachers and parents are the primary customers.
Amount raised: Between $4,000 and $10,000
Best Tip: Make it as easy as possible! Two orders are not that much for a student to handle, and this brings in solid profit. All students are asked to participate and we encourage them by offering a grade for this activity.

Saginaw Career Complex in Saginaw, Michigan conducts a can and bottle drive as their student fundraiser, reports advisor Mark Gurnee.

Members: 10 students, automotive technology
Project summary: The Saginaw students put on their SkillsUSA blazers and go house to house as a group in our community to college cans and bottles. In Michigan, these are worth .10 cents each, which adds up. They announce this activity in the local paper to let the community know the days and times so they will expect the students and have cans and bottles ready. They go out as a team of four students with one advisor as the driver and say the best time to go is between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. weekdays when people are likely to be home. They have tried this project on the weekends with less success.
Amount raised: It varies depending upon how many days they go out to collect
Best Tip: The students are very polite and sometimes homeowners will donate cash if they have no cans or bottles. They have been given as much as a twenty dollar donation just for asking for cans and bottles, and being polite.

Madison Career and Technical Center in Madison, Mississippi builds a child’s playhouse each year and raffles it off for $10 per ticket, says advisor Wallace Boteler.

They send out an announcement to all instructors in the school system. The funds go into the building trades SkillsUSA account and are used to fund travel to conferences.
SkillsUSA members: 24 students, building trades
Project summary: They build a child’s playhouse each year and have a raffle sale. The tickets are $10.00. Students are directly involved in the construction and sale of the tickets. The raffle was held in April this year. The playhouse was 4′ x 8′, with furniture and lights. The style was Victorian and it had a built-in desk, vinyl floor, and shutters.
Amount raised: We invested $600 and hoped to raise up to $10,000
Best Tip: Build a product that will appeal to the most people.

Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland, Oregon uses the Grilling for Dollars Event, sponsored by SkillsUSA industry partner Carhartt, report advisors Bill Cooper and Mary Ganoe.

Each official “Grilling for Dollars” event is about four hours. Other hot dog sales have varied from two to four hours. At the Grilling for Dollars events our customers are anyone visiting the local Carhartt retailer. At school, our customers are students, teachers and parents. Money raised is used to help cover expenses at both state and national conference.
SkillsUSA members: 174 students and 18 instructors, mixed training
Project summary: They have done two of these events so far and plan on making Grilling for Dollars an ongoing effort. During the Grilling for Dollars event last December they added a gift-wrapping station (with the blessing of the Carhartt store because they did not offer gift wrapping to their customers). The Carhartt-sponsored events went so well that we have been doing hot dog sales at a variety of events at Benson, including the school’s annual technical education open house. Students primarily run the event with assistance from advisors and parents.
Amount raised: $450-$700 per event
Best Tip: More schools should take advantage of the Carhartt Grilling for Dollars program. It’s a fundraiser without the downside of having to pay for your supplies yourself! You can make a profit from your first sale!

Sullivan South High School in Kingsport, Tennessee raise funds by selling concessions during NASCAR races, reports advisor Toni Phelps.

Students learn and utilize many leadership skills such as teamwork, customer service and professionalism. These funds raised are used to pay for expenses related to leadership conferences and regional, state and national competitions.
SkillsUSA members: Up to 20 cosmetology students
Project summary: The students and their advisor work concession booths for three days during the twice-yearly Bristol NASCAR races and once a year at the IHRA drags. The students work from early in the morning until late in the evening serving race fans fresh-squeezed lemonade, hot pretzels and ice cream products. The event is held at the Bristol Motor Speedway and The Bristol Thunder Valley Dragway. The NASCAR races are in March and August and the drags are in May. Each event allows the group three days of working time.
Best Tip: Look for a fundraising venture the students enjoy. If students find it exciting, it increases participation, which leads to a more successful event. Students enjoy the atmosphere of the racetrack.

Mission Trails Regional Occupational Program in Salinas, California sells prepared steak dinners as their fundraiser, reports advisor Chuck Felice.

The students and teachers work together to sell the dinners and to get donations to support the fundraiser. All items are donated accept for the meat. The funds are used for State Conference hotel costs and travel, hotel and food for the National Conference.
SkillsUSA members: 25 students, cabinetmaking
Project summary: The school offers a steak dinner for four people for $20. The meal includes a grilled tri-tip (bottom sirloin) steak, a bag of salad and dinner rolls. The students and teachers work together to get donated items such as one-gallon zip lock bags for the rolls and steak, bags with handles from local grocery stores for the meal. We also have to get firewood for the grills. The event is generally held either the first or second weekend in March. Our primary customers are the teachers and staff from the local schools and the community.
Amount raised: $3000.00
Best Tip: Have everyone work together and find out how they can best help. If the students have a parent who works in produce, try to get the salads donated. If the parents work in a grocery store, perhaps they can help with zip lock bags and handle bags for carrying out the meals. If you don’t have parents in these industries, then write a letter explaining the fundraiser to take to local businesses. Ask your school district if you can use their tax I.D. number to save the tax on any supplies purchased.

Crossland Technical Academy in Temple Hills, Maryland sells snacks and juices as their fundraiser, reports advisor Georgene Arneson.

The funds raised are used to support State Conference costs and expenses for hosting regional competitions.
SkillsUSA members: 65 students, Cisco Networking Academy
Project summary: The students sell snacks and juices to other students and staff on school days.
Amount raised: approximately $300 a week
Best tip: Once people know you will be selling snacks, they come to rely on you and will make regular purchases. Students also learn about planning their work and handling money. They are proud when they do a good job.

Career and Technology Academy in Prince Frederick, Maryland hosts a county-wide Bowl-a-Thon, reports advisor Elaine Bradley

The funds raised are used to fund the school’s state and national competition participation.
Project summary:  In March of every year, they have a Bowl-A-Thon, which is a county-wide event. They have businesses, school staff members and students that put teams together to bowl. This is an all-day event held annually. Teams sign up for a two-hour time slot to bowl. They solicit door prizes and send out letters for sponsorship. Door prizes are given out all day and there’s an optional 50/50 raffle for those who would like to participate. This is considered a “fun-raiser” and all who participate seem to have a great time.
Amount raised: $15,000
Best tip: Keep students involved as much as possible!

Other Fundraising Ideas

  • Offer services to shovel snow, landscape or plant flowers
  • Hold a battle of the bands
  • Hold a Cutest Dog beauty pageant
  • Before a school dance, host a beauty salon for hair, nails, makeup
  • Sell donated formal dresses at a Prom Dress Sale
  • Hold a sale for used books, CDs and video game
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Fashion Show
  • Bottle drive
  • Trick-or-Treating for donations to SkillsUSA (dress up in work attire)
  • Spaghetti dinner
  • Haunted Forest
  • Texas Hold-em Tournament
  • Dodgeball or Basketball tournament (students against teachers)
  • Sell handmade quilts
  • High School Idol Talent Show
  • Couch Potato … Place a couch at 50 yard line and raffle “VIP Seats” off
  • Principal for a day raffle
  • Parent/student baseball game
  • Car Wash
  • Sell concessions at school play or sports events
  • Cook-Off (Best BBQ, Chili, etc.)
  • Sports Tournaments
  • Apple Pie Sales
  • Poinsettia Sales
  • Sub Sales
  • Pretzel Sales
  • Holiday Card Sales
Fundraising Policy

School Policies on Fundraising

Before undertaking any fundraising, be sure to check with your school administration on any school policies or procedures for handling money. Be sure to issue receipts for any goods provided to others and have a system to record all transactions. Check the local school fundraising policies and be sure each activity undertaken falls within the guidelines. It is a good idea to obtain written approval from the principal or campus administrator for any fundraising activity.

The purpose of student activity funds is to promote the general welfare, education and morale of all the students, and to finance legitimate co-curricular activities of the student organizations. Schools or their central office or school board generally adopt policy statements to govern the management and control of student activity funds, and how funds can be raised by students. Such policy statements create parameters within which all student groups like SkillsUSA can operate effectively. Projects for raising funds should contribute to the educational experience of students and, if possible, should enhance the instructional program.

Many schools have a forms for organizers to fill out annually that specify the goal of the fundraiser, the type of activity, the time it will take, how the funds will be collected and the number of students involved. When planning an event, keep in mind that students or staff should never be coerced or compelled to participate in fundraising activities. Students may be rewarded for participation in a fundraiser, but they should not be penalized because of a refusal to participate in fundraising activities conducted on behalf of a school.

Fundraising Best Practices

Please fill out this form to share your fund-raising ideas with other chapters. If you have more than one fund-raising suggestion to share, please fill out the form again. The best ideas will be shared online later this year.

Fill out my online form.

Chapter Recruiting

Wouldn’t it be great if you could snap your fingers and instantly have an active SkillsUSA chapter established, one where 100 percent of your students were members and where a program of work was in operation? To achieve that amount of success, it may take a little song and dance, too.

The following best practices from CTE teachers focus on how to get students involved with SkillsUSA:

Recruitment Ideas

Idea No. 1: Recruiting Members, One Student at a Time

Member Recruitment Ideas by Janice Laster, SkillsUSA advisor and cosmetology teacher at Hiram High School

Membership recruitment is vital to your program. It is a continual process that allows you to reach more students with more opportunities. It’s also an integral part of being able to provide comprehensive exposure to career and technical education. What value is career training in the classroom if you can’t practice what you’ve learned? SkillsUSA supports your curriculum with interactive, hands-on experience. It is also the best way to equip students with leadership and employability skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

recruitingmembersIn that regard, it’s important to view your program and SkillsUSA as one and the same. They are interchangeable. You cannot have a complete program without SkillsUSA, and you cannot have SkillsUSA without career and technical education. When you approach the two with this mindset, you inherently convey the importance of both to your students. If you make SkillsUSA a priority, your students will make it a priority. Joining SkillsUSA will be something they want to do, not something they have to do. It will also make your job of recruiting new members a lot easier.

Steps to Success

Step 1: Promote SkillsUSA in the classroom. Use opportunities within the classroom to market SkillsUSA.

  • Review upcoming SkillsUSA events a few times each week
  • Hold chapter meetings during the school day to encourage attendance
  • Have a speaker series to discuss different leadership topics (can be held during chapter meeting)
  • Show SkillsUSA videos and use promotional materials to get students interested
  • Have the chapter officers talk to classes about competitions, activities and other opportunities

Step 2: Conduct activities to keep students interested. Make involvement in SkillsUSA fun!

  • Host social activities (barbecue, trivia night, movie night) every one to two months
  • Create networking opportunities with professionals in the community
  • Research and implement valuable community services
  • Encourage students to attend SkillsUSA leadership development events
  • If money is an issue, conduct fundraisers or recruit sponsors to fund SkillsUSA activities

Step 3: Encourage students to compete. Use competition as a motivator to test their skills.

  • Provide an overview of competitions during a monthly meeting
  • Secure a mandatory date for those interested in competing
  • Host a classroom mini-competition to build interest in competition
  • Hold a countywide competition (or with nearby schools) a month before regionals
  • Set up mandatory practice dates for students competing

Idea No. 2 – In-Class Recruitment

Importance: One of the easiest ways to entice students to join SkillsUSA is through in-class recruitment. In-class recruitment involves all students, nonmembers and members, and it doesn’t require a lot of teacher direction. Students gain experience interacting with their peers as they develop workplace skills without leaving campus.

Value to Your Program

Chapter members who participate gain workplace readiness skills including:

  • Persuasion
  • Organization
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Salesmanship
  • Communication of belief
  • Relationship building skills
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership

Students who are not members hear about the benefits of SkillsUSA from members firsthand. They also experience some of the fun that comes from membership. If they decide to join, they are likely to become active members after experiencing the recruitment challenge.

Why It Works

A recruitment competition offers these advantages:

  • Healthy competition heightens interest
  • Incentives motivate members
  • The challenge of meeting a targeted goal creates awareness
  • Current members have the opportunity to grow among members
  • This is a student-led activity
  • It’s a win-win for all students
Steps to Success

Step 1: Put together a committee of active, committed and motivated members.

  • One committee from each class is ideal
  • One overall committee with a chairperson or lead representative from each class is also effective

Step 2: Meet to introduce them to the idea, set membership goals and plan the competition:

  • Be sure to set a deadline
  • Outline rules and guidelines

Step 3: Develop an incentive program — for instance, a pizza party, T-shirts or field trip for the winning class.

Step 4: Incentives can be used periodically to maintain enthusiasm and momentum.

  • Prizes could be given every week to the top class
  • A traveling banner could be hung in the top classroom for the week

Step 5: Create a visual barometer to chart progress, and hang it in a visible area of the department.

Step 6: As the advisor, promote the competition. Encourage, support, assist and provide resources to the leaders.

Step 7: Follow through with recognition for winning classes. Consider hosting a chapterwide event with the new members recruited during the competition.

NOTE: In a small program, this competition can be set up among members. The one who signs up the most, wins.

Idea No. 3 – Adopt a Member

Importance: The Adopt-a-Member program is a great example of the importance of peer-to-peer recruitment. This program is simple to implement as it pairs an upperclassman (mentor) with an incoming student (typically a freshman). Through example and encouragement, upperclassmen recruit students to join SkillsUSA.

Value to Your Program

This program brings tremendous value because you are recruiting new members through the talents and skills of existing members. Upperclassmen or mentors are given an opportunity to share experience and insight with prospective members while developing mentorship skills that are valuable in the workplace. Incoming students get to experience SkillsUSA from those who know it best. If they join, they are likely to become active members, because something about their mentor inspired them.

Skills developed include:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Service orientation
  • Mentoring skills
  • Time management
  • Communication skills
Why It Works

Peer-to-peer recruitment works because:

  • Students are less apt to attend chapter activities or join a chapter if they don’t know anyone
  • One-to-one invitations from older, respected students are very effective
  • Mentors can share their own personal experience
  • New students are often seeking involvement but are unsure of opportunities
  • Students who have mentors will strive to be mentors themselves
Steps to Success

Step 1: Begin planning the activity a few months before school starts.

Step 2: Select student role models to serve as mentors: members of high character who are passionate about SkillsUSA.

Step 3: Personally invite the mentors to participate in the program.

Step 4: Conduct a meeting to train the mentors.

  • Training should include but is not limited to:
  • Expectations of the program and their role
  • Relationship-building skills
  • Communication Skills: conversations and listening
  • Time management
  • Set goals for mentor involvement:
  • How often should mentors meet with students?
  • What are some good ways to expose new students to SkillsUSA?
  • What is the process of registering those who want to become members?

Step 5: Implement the program:

  • Identify incoming students
  • Have them complete a student interest survey
  • Assign partners based on common interests

Step 6: Evaluate the program and record suggestions.

Step 7: Celebrate success:

  • Welcome new members at a chapter meeting
  • Host a lunch with new members and their mentors
  • Post photos of new members in the classroom
Retention Ideas

retentionideasMembership retention is one of the best ways to add value to your program. As a matter of fact, it is a necessity if you want to establish a strong classroom curriculum and SkillsUSA chapter. Think of your students as building blocks. The more blocks you have and the longer you have them, the better foundation for creating new opportunities. A cohesive program is a quality program, and that’s what all of us in career and technical education should strive to achieve.

Idea No. 1 – Achieving Your Program’s Potential

teacherandstudentMembership Retention Ideas from Nathan Greven, culinary arts teacher at the College and Career Academy

Like much of what we do, success starts from Day One. We set the tone for our program the minute students enter our classroom. If they like our class, they will most likely join SkillsUSA. If they find value in our program and in SkillsUSA, they are going to stick with it. Membership retention is the best way to grow a program in both quantity and quality. There is no better publicity for your program than a positive endorsement by students. Similarly, there is no better way to improve your program than by having students return for a second, third or fourth year. Not only does this help students, it makes you a better teacher.

How do you retain members? Simple: Offer an interactive program with plenty of hands-on opportunities. Make your classroom a place of mutual respect, encouragement and learning. Make it a place where students want to be involved.

How to Reach Them

Communicate, connect and make it real:

  • Treat your students like adults; this will get their attention
  • Provide a lot of practical experience and multiple opportunities
  • Set expectations and be consistent
  • Make your class and SkillsUSA the reason they want to come to school
  • Invite parents to open houses and other school-sponsored activities
Why It Works

All of us had teachers who taught us a lot more than the subject matter in class. Those classes are most likely the ones we still remember today. By offering a program that gives students an education incorporating theory with useful experience, they will want to come back for more. It will also help them to think ahead and embrace career exploration. Many students have no compass as to what they want to do with their lives. By providing them with direction, they will start thinking ahead. Even if they do not pursue the specific career path you are teaching, they will take the life lessons from your class and apply them elsewhere. Make your program bigger than the subject matter and membership retention will become automatic.

Steps to Success

Step 1: Be passionate about what you teach. Love your subject matter or the students will see right through you:

  • From Day One, share your enthusiasm for the subject
  • Let students know why you are there and why you love teaching
  • Provide daily insight on the subject to build credibility
  • Mix it up and keep it interesting; surprise your students once in a while
  • Make the program your own — this is your baby!

Step 2: Be honest. Always be truthful about your program, SkillsUSA and the career path you teach. I tell my students from the onset that a culinary career is not glamorous; it’s a lot of work.

  • If you don’t know something, tell them
  • Find out what students want, and be honest about opportunities
  • Be prepared for students not to like your program, and don’t try to make them like it
  • Set expectations, and be honest about those expectations
  • Give parents and administrators the truth about your program (For example, I let them know that my program is more than a cooking class; it’s a life skills class.)

Step 3: Be fair, firm and consistent with everyone. Let students know where you stand all the time:

  • There is no cut-and-dry formula for handling issues; approach everything with an open mind
  • Set the rules and follow through (I tell my students not to mistake my kindness for weakness.)
  • Be a positive, adult influence with every student you encounter
  • Give everyone, including parents, a role in the program’s success
  • Never insult the intelligence of your students — if they are old enough to drive a car, they are old enough to manage themselves

Step 4: Give them real-world experience. My program is structured to provide theory, life skills and hands-on experience. With all of our projects, the students must do the research first, then present to the class. The cooking is last. This gives them a well-rounded education:

  • Invite a variety of guest speakers to give students exposure to various careers
  • Take field trips (I take my students to a nice restaurant so they can see everything from the host/hostess, to the wait staff, to the chefs in action.)
  • Have them demonstrate skills for key audiences (My students prepare and serve multicourse meals for school faculty and staff, from start to finish.)
  • Take time to focus on life skills such as interviewing techniques, résumé building and public speaking
  • Invite parents to see students in action; allow them to show off their skills in front of their family

Idea No. 2 – Chapter Fun Night

propelImportance: It’s essential to remind members and nonmembers that being part of SkillsUSA is fun. Sometimes after members have worked hard on a big project such as community service, or they have diligently prepared for SkillsUSA Championships, they may feel tired or burned out. For nonmembers, a fun activity is incentive to try something new. It’s important they see firsthand that SkillsUSA is not just about gaining experience, it’s also about building community and making friends.

The fun night should be something fairly easy for chapter leaders to coordinate. It could involve activities such as a bowling night, scavenger hunt around campus, movie nights or carnival games. See the SkillsUSA publication Propel: A Collection of 35 Engaging Activities for Meetings, Workshops and Conferences.

Value to Your Program

Fun activities not only help build relationships and lift morale, but they present a valuable learning opportunity. Those members who plan and participate learn about:

  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Group participation
  • Follow-through
  • Interpersonal skills development

Fun activities are also a great way to promote your program. Word of mouth travels fast with students, and they are your best endorsement. Whether members or not, when students start talking about what fun they had at a SkillsUSA activity, there is no better way to grow your chapter.

Why It Works

The best part about a chapter fun night is its simplicity:

  • Students enjoy interacting with peers in a relaxed setting
  • It’s a great way to boost morale and create enthusiasm
  • Fun nights create a low-pressure means of recruitment
  • Activities can appeal to a variety of student interests
  • It provides an indirect venue to promote SkillsUSA
  • There’s nothing like using fun as a motivator!
Steps to Success

Step 1: Depending on the event, begin planning as early as two months out.

Step 2: Form a committee of interested chapter leaders:

  • Share the fun-night idea
  • Brainstorm activity ideas
  • Choose the event
  • Select committee chairs
  • Develop a structure of subcommittees and subcommittee chairs
  • Note: This depends on the work involved in coordinating the event

Step 3: Facilitate planning meetings:

  • Secure the location
  • Select a date and time
  • Develop timelines and budgets
  • Obtain any materials or equipment needed
  • Design promotional materials

Step 4: Advertise and promote the event:

  • Chapter website or Facebook
  • School newspaper
  • Fliers/posters around the school and classroom

Step 5: Host the event:

  • Make sure students have transportation
  • If needed, ensure parental consent forms are signed
  • Follow school policies

Step 6: Evaluate the event, and record suggestions for next year.

Step 7: Celebrate success:

  • Host a pizza lunch for coordinators
  • Give extra credit

Idea No. 3 – Back-To-School Barbecue

Importance: Hosting a back-to-school parent or family barbecue is a simple yet effective way to build rapport and interest for the coming year with students and their families. It’s a fun activity that encourages community participation and inclusion of all members. It’s also a great way to build or re-establish relationships with parents and families at the beginning of school, forming a key support group. These types of events also promote retention of active members. By including families, the incentive to remain active in SkillsUSA is strengthened, because parents feel involved and therefore will give their students encouragement at home.

Value to Your Program

Maintaining a quality program is a constant work in progress. Events at key times of the year allow you to capitalize on opportunities to promote SkillsUSA. An event such as a back-to-school barbecue is a chance for advisors and chapter leaders to start the year off right by reconnecting with members and their families — and by setting the tone for the coming year.

Chapter leaders involved have a chance to develop:

  • Leadership
  • Organizational and planning skills
  • Public relations skills
  • Speaking skills

Students and families in attendance will gain a sense of community and belonging. This is also a good time for them to learn more about the chapter’s program of work for the year.

Why It Works

There are many reasons why this idea works:

  • Meal functions attract people
  • A casual, relaxed environment provides a great opportunity to promote SkillsUSA
  • Involving families fosters “buy-in” from parents and spouses
  • Members and parents learn about SkillsUSA and the benefits of membership together
  • Potential supporters, chaperones, guest speakers, coaches and resources can be identified
  • A quality event sends a positive message about the type of SkillsUSA program you have
Steps to Success

Step 1: Form a committee early in the fall semester:

  • This should include chapter officers
  • Students who volunteer could receive extra credit

Step 2: Facilitate and advise a planning session:

  • Set the date, making sure it doesn’t coincide with other big school events
  • Secure facilities and equipment (grills, microphones if needed)
  • Determine budgetary needs (food, picnic ware, decorations)
  • Discuss and select speakers
  • Create promotional materials
  • Advertise the event
  • Create the program:
    • Door prizes
    • Industry speakers to address the value of workplace skill development
    • Videos or PowerPoint slides about SkillsUSA or past activities
    • Student testimonies
  • Facilitate sessions for leaders to develop scripts and practice

Step 3: Promote the event:

Send out invitations via mail or email (evite)

Have chapter officers make follow-up calls if needed

Place event on school marquee and use chapter Web page (if applicable)

Step 4: Host the event:

  • Ensure there are enough trash receptacles — keep it clean!
  • Make sure food and drinks are organized and sufficient
  • Make sure students keep the program running smoothly
  • Extend hospitality and encourage interaction
  • Thank guests for attending

Step 5: Debrief with event leaders after the event:

  • Identify what went well and areas that need improvement
  • Celebrate success at the next chapter meeting
Increasing Alumni Membership

Growing Alumni Ideas

by Jesse Domer, technology and engineering teacher at Watertown High School

growingalumniAlumni involvement is not optional. Alumni are the best resources for industry outreach, event support, fundraisers, chapter involvement and future employment for students. Former members understand the purpose of SkillsUSA, and they offer valuable knowledge to strengthen chapter activities. Nothing compares to the synergy that exists between current and former SkillsUSA members. It's contagious!

Growing Alumni Membership

Alumni recruitment is a challenge. Finding former members is nearly impossible if you don't have an alumni roster. You may be able to identify former SkillsUSA members through professional contact, but convincing them to establish an alumni organization isn't easy. And, if you already have an alumni organization, but it seems stagnant, finding new energetic members to refresh your group is also a challenge. Existing students are your ticket to active alumni membership, especially graduating seniors. Be sure to generate interest while they are active members.

How to Reach Them

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

  • From Day One, tell your students in every class about the alumni and their purpose
  • Set up an email group, Facebook page and other means of communication
  • Involve alumni in chapter activities, even those who may have gone away to college
  • Establish a formal network or nonprofit organization
Why It Works

SkillsUSA is a dynamic organization, and many students want to remain connected after graduation. Keep the lines of communication open with members who have graduated, SkillsUSA alumni or not. Communicate with students about becoming alumni from the moment they become SkillsUSA members. Communicating early and frequently about the importance of alumni, and exposing students to alumni, equates to students thinking about their own long-term relationships with SkillsUSA.

Steps to Success

Step 1: Communicate from the beginning. From Day One, start communicating with members about the importance of alumni:

  • Have casual conversations with members, planting the seed that they will want to be alumni and that you want them to come back (for example, "I can't wait for you to be an engineer and come back to help our chapter.")
  • Discuss the importance of alumni membership during classroom time
  • Have current alumni attend chapter meetings, or give a short presentation about the importance of maintaining SkillsUSA involvement

Step 2: Establish digital communication. Electronic communication is available. Use it:

  • Obtain email, phone and address information
  • Set up an email listserv
  • Create an alumni section on the chapter website
  • Create a Facebook page
  • Use text messaging

Step 3: Use your communication resources to involve alumni:

  • Send out regular communication regarding chapter requests and needed support
  • If you have a new chapter and most of your alumni are away at college, keep them in loop, especially for events around the holidays or summer months
  • Establish a board of directors within the alumni to coordinate activities
  • Have chapter officers call alumni for specific events; keep the personal connection
  • Invite them to everything, big or small
  • Have them help with fundraisers, contests and local and state events

Step 4: Establish a formal network

As your alumni membership grows, set up a formal network with the intent of becoming a stand-alone nonprofit organization. This gives the alumni an entity all their own. Come up with a name (such as Watertown SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Inc.).

Alumni Idea No. 1: Guest Speakers and Mentors

Invite SkillsUSA alumni who graduated from your program to return to the school as guest speakers and mentors. Who better to help prepare students for competition and a specific career and technical education (CTE) field than students you've trained? These alumni can share their success stories and offer cautions and advice, while relating to current students differently than the instructor.

Alumni may speak on various topics such as:

  • Specific techniques, tools or theories related to your career and technical education area
  • Preparing for the workforce or continuing education
  • Preparing for competition
  • Recruiting SkillsUSA and alumni membership

These mentor activities may also qualify your chapter for the Student2Student Program.

Guest speakers and mentors offer perspectives and experiences. These presentations and interactions are also great practice environments for students as they prepare for the workplace.

Have students invite the guest speaker, develop questions for the speaker, greet and introduce the speaker, and thank and follow up with the speaker after the presentation.

Why It Works

Alumni have a different relationship with students than instructors and advisors, which can be effective in education, mentoring and career preparation.

Having been through your program, they can speak firsthand about the positive effects it had on them and how additional support will have a greater impact on today's students. In addition, previous members, as well as students, can be effective promoters of your CTE program and SkillsUSA chapter. Their support and involvement can help take your chapter and program to the next level through their connections within the community.

By incorporating students in selecting the guest speakers, students can also learn additional leadership skills and be more engaged in the speakers' presentations.

Steps to Success

Step 1: After students graduate, keep in touch with them through the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. Maintain records and contact information with students after graduation, and continue to invite them to be a part of the chapter and program. The Alumni and Friends Association database can serve as a resource of volunteers.

Step 2: While preparing for a specific section or topic, review the alumni database for previous students who could help reinforce your teaching as a guest speaker.

Invite previous competitors to speak on their competition experience as well as how best to prepare for the event, dealing with stress or how to complete the project in the allotted time.

Step 3: When inviting alumni to speak, be specific on the topics you would like them to cover, the amount of time you would like them to speak, and possible questions your students may have. It is helpful for alumni to know the reason why you invited them back as guest speakers and what you are hoping your students gain from the presentation.

Alumni Idea No. 2: Alumni Induction and End-of-Year Recognition

Have alumni organize the end-of-the-year recognition for your chapter activities. This event can review the chapter's program of work for the year and competitive results, recognize the chapter officers, honor graduating students and induct graduates into the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. This special event will honor students for their achievements and provide them a way to stay connected after graduation while continuing their journey. This is also a great way to showcase your chapter to the school and community. This event could also recognize business and industry partners, show appreciation for administration or school district support, and thank parents for their involvement.

What is It?

An end-of-the-year celebration and alumni induction can be simple and included in a chapter meeting, or more extravagant and held in the evening with dessert or a meal. The purpose is to recognize and celebrate all that the chapter has accomplished, as well as supporting students as they transition out of high school.

Why It Works

This event provides an opportunity to celebrate, reminisce and recognize. Alumni can support this event and help your chapter move to the next level by including students, school officials, business and industry partners, and parents along with the student members. These alumni volunteers know what it is like to be a student member and have had their lives touched by this organization. This provides them the opportunity to give back in a fun and real way. This recognition can also offer great public relations, which can be used as a recruitment tool.

Steps to Success

Step 1: With the alumni volunteers, establish the budget, location, date and time of the event. Also identify any special guest that you would like to invite.

Step 2: Alumni work on the details; establish the agenda, décor, refreshments and recognition pieces; and complete and disburse invitations.

Step 3: Volunteers complete "day-of" coordination tasks:

  • Set up the event
  • Greet guests as they arrive
  • Act as the master of ceremonies, recognizing chapter officers, competitors, completed projects and chapter accomplishments
  • Install graduating seniors into the Alumni and Friends Association
  • Enjoy refreshments
  • After networking with guests, assist with cleanup

Step 4: Alumni should follow up with graduates and special guests who attended the celebration.

Alumni Idea No. 3: Local Advisory Committee and Competition Judges

Add an alumni member to your existing committee, or establish a local advisory committee if you do not already have one for your program. Advisory committee members, as well as alumni members, can be great advocates for your CTE program. This committee can provide resources, standards and industry insights to you, your program and your students.

What is It?

The advisory committee helps keep your program on point with changing industry standards. This committee provides resources and volunteers to assist with your program activities and enhance the educational experience for students.

Once your advisory committee is set, hold regular meetings, review the curriculum and share industry updates and changes. These meetings can also include chapter activities and competitive events.

Why It Works

Advisory committees can be an integral part of a career and technical education program, offering support of resources and experience.

In preparing for the regional, state and national competitions, it is important for students to learn their skill areas as well as sportsmanship. Local competitions are a great way for students to learn and prepare for those higher-level events. Also, competitive events are a great way for members to complete the transition from student to alumni, as they now mentor and facilitate as judges and competition coordinators instead of competing themselves.

Offering challenges or competitive events to students can be a great way to prepare them for competition and the world of work as well as to test their skill level at the end of a section. Work with alumni volunteers and advisory committee members to create another level of assessment in your classroom.

Steps to Success

Step 1: Networking and building partnerships within the community, especially with business partners in your field of study, is the first step to building an advisory committee. As partners come on board to support your program, formalize advisory committee meetings with agendas, as well as more specific requests for support. Support can be guest speaking, offering field trip destinations, placing students in internships, advising on curricula, judging local contests, donating materials, and more.

Step 2: As these partnerships are developing, be sure they are mutually beneficial for both the partner and the school. Recognize and thank partners for their involvement.

Step 3: Using the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards, have committee members test students on a single contest competency or multiple competencies. These contests may be leadership or skill competitions. By using volunteers to assist with these competitions, students experience another perspective, which can be helpful to their growth as young leaders. In addition to judging, these volunteers can also reinforce student learning and assist with the student application.

Chapter Programs and Scholarships

Chapter programs and scholarships are ideal ways to illustrate the value to current members of SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is committed to equipping members with skills they can apply to be successful not only in their careers but also as leaders in their communities. Share with students the many programs they can be a part of in SkillsUSA. The organization also offers many scholarship opportunities. Get all the details here.