Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries Join mikeroweWORKS Foundation to Fund the SkillsUSA Travel Scholarship Program

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Financial Assistance for Students to Demonstrate Their Skills

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Through excellence and competition, SkillsUSA encourages real-world training, and in the process, lays the foundation for thousands of careers in the skilled trades. SkillsUSA works

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation has contributed $50,000 to the SkillsUSA Travel Scholarship Program for students competing in the world’s largest showcase of career and technical education (CTE), the 2017 National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. This year’s scholarship program was enhanced through a generous grant of $50,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries, bringing the total to $100,000 to support CTE students.

This is the seventh consecutive year that the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has offered travel scholarships to SkillsUSA members who compete and place first in their state’s SkillsUSA Championships but face a financial challenge to travel and compete at the national event. Any SkillsUSA 2017 national competitor who meets the criteria can apply.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation focuses on students working toward careers in manufacturing, construction, automotive technology and other STEM-related occupations. The 2017 scholarship fund will assist up to 100 students. Since 2011, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has provided travel scholarships to nearly 400 SkillsUSA students, representing an investment of more than $365,000 in America’s future skilled workforce.

“The skills gap is not only real, it’s a reflection of what we value,” said Mike Rowe. “To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work. My foundation supports SkillsUSA because it celebrates the kind of skills that are actually in demand. Through excellence and competition, SkillsUSA encourages real-world training, and in the process, lays the foundation for thousands of careers in the skilled trades. SkillsUSA works.”

“This is an amazing sponsorship from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and its partners. We sincerely thank the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries for supporting America’s future skilled workforce and these deserving students,” said SkillsUSA’s executive director, Tim Lawrence. “Our students are so grateful for the support they receive and deserve every opportunity to showcase their skills. SkillsUSA is a talent pipeline and a verified skills gap solution. Every year 100,000 SkillsUSA students complete their technical program, job-ready on Day One.”

The annual SkillsUSA Championships take place this June 19-23. An expected 6,000 competitors will test in 100 leadership and hands-on occupational skills contests, the majority of which are STEM-focused. Events include Humanoid Robotics, Automated Manufacturing Technology, Carpentry, Graphic Communications, Mobile Electronics Installation, Information Technology Services and Medical Assisting. Competitions are planned and run by industry to its standards for entry-level workers.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation focuses on students who are ready to work hard but face financial challenges to attend the national event. Scholarships are based on a written application that includes financial need and SkillsUSA involvement. Applicants must also provide a recommendation from a SkillsUSA member instructor or state association director.

About SkillsUSA
SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 335,000 member students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Local, state and national championships, designed and judged by industry, set relevant standards for career and technical education and provide needed recognition to its students. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials. For more information, go to:

About the mikeroweWORKS Foundation
The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that works hard to debunk myths about the skilled trades and help close the skills gap. As CEO of the Foundation, Mike Rowe speaks regularly about the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work and challenges the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people. Through its scholarship programs, including the Work Ethic Scholarship Program and the SkillsUSA Travel Scholarships, the Foundation provides financial assistance to people getting trained for skilled jobs that are in demand. The Foundation has granted, or facilitated the granting of, nearly $5 million in education for trade schools across the country. For more information, go to:

About the Charles Koch Foundation
Charles G. Koch has supported research and educational programs focused on improving human well-being for more than 50 years. The Charles Koch Foundation supports more than 300 universities and colleges across the country, supporting scholars and universities interested in advancing an understanding of the link between free societies and well-being. The foundation also provides students resources to further their educational opportunities and career development. For more information, visit:

About Koch Industries, Inc.
Based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest private companies in America with estimated annual revenues as high as $100 billion, according to Forbes. It owns a diverse group of companies involved in refining, chemicals, and biofuels; forest and consumer products; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; electronics; information systems; commodity trading; minerals; energy; glass; ranching; and investments. Since 2003, Koch companies have invested more than $80 billion in acquisitions and other capital expenditures. With a presence in about 60 countries, Koch companies employ more than 120,000 people worldwide, with about 70,000 of those in the United States. From January 2009 to present, Koch companies have earned more than 1,200 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation, and customer service. For more news and stories, visit:

SkillsUSA contacts:
Karen Kitzel or Jane Short
kkitzel(at) or jshort(at)

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