We support apprenticing experiences with professional trades persons at their businesses.

What is Harbor Freight Fellows?

​Big Picture Learning, with support from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, has designed a new form of apprenticing for youths and young adults who show significant potential and passion for the traditional and contemporary trades.  Harbor Freight Fellows provides deep and sustaining relationships with expert mentors and access to communities of practice in their area of passion. 

  We will provide:
  • A $1,000 scholarship to the youth for 120 hours of apprenticing with a trades person Mentor.

  • A $500 stipend to the professional trades person Mentor.

  • A $500 stipend to the supporting staff member (the Advisor) at the referring school or organization.


Construction Workers







Engineer Working on Machinery




Typing on a Computer




Welcome to Harbor Freight Fellows


Harbor Freight Fellows' director Charlie Plant explains how the program works. With Mentor Day Pollini of Young Sparks Foundation, along with Fellow Frankie Zamora-Hemsley and MetWest High School Teacher/Advisor Nick Palmquist.

What's New
cover GET REAL #1-1.png

What if bored, disengaged students had a magical app to change school to be something engaging, meaningful and truly helpful in navigating their way to success?

Find out HERE in GET REAL #1 YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT! — the all-new graphic novel designed to show what interest-based, mentor-supported REAL world learning looks like.

“There is just
something incredible
to be the member of a
group founded by the
most brave, bold,
badass women who
came before me. I try
to capture these
incredible women
in my paintings
because they inspire
me to continue their

Elliot's TGIF 2020-07-10

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

The Miseducation of Education

Our Harbor Freight Fellows sessions at Summerfest featuring our Fellows Julie Torres, Fiona Nelson and Rakau Rocky Boikanyo were just amazing. Julie and Fiona were captivating. We went from building Tiny Homes to airplane maintenance in hangers to a metal shop in Oakland. People stayed long after the sessions were over. Rocky’s session included a live tour of the shop where he and his mentor Brian work. Rocky took out some of his metal art and a discussion ensued on where crafts, art and trades merge. In all of these conversations and demonstrations, it was apparent that our Fellows and mentors use of language can only come from having done and knowing how to do work well. That’s what tacit learning can educate the system on.

HFFI White Paper WITH

​Over the past four years, HFFI has demonstrated that when students are given the support and opportunity as well as the financial incentive to connect with communities of practice centered on their needs and interests, they thrive and flourish. What happens time and time again is that many students who may have been detached, bored or disillusioned in school become active and engaged learners who develop the competencies that educators, parents, employers and communities want for all graduates.


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