The TRADART Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Santa Barbara that devotes itself to craftsmanship training and industry standards, believing that education needs to reflect the nobility and equality of both academic and vocational training studies. Founded in 2000, the foundation partners with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to help over 200 students each semester learn craftsmanship in construction trades by defining and supporting classes that integrate core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge. The goal? Provide students with a CTE (Career Technical Education) pathway, beginning in junior high and extending into high school, higher education, the professional world and beyond. As a result of the TRADART Foundation’s initiative, there are now six thriving Construction Technology Woodshop classes taught in local junior and high schools, offering guest speakers from the field, volunteer opportunities, resume training, and more.
This year, the foundation is proud to announce the culmination of their first-ever Tiny Houses program, a two-year program first launched at the beginning of the 2016 school year thanks to a generous $50,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, and an additional $25,000 in funding from the Santa Barbara Unified School District in 2017.
“As technical trade arts are becoming more important than ever in today’s society, we proposed the Tiny Houses program as an innovative way to tie in the real world to the student’s curriculum and experience” says Caleb Chadwick, Santa Barbara High School teacher and TRADART Foundation board member. “Every day I witness firsthand the power of CTE to change lives and empower our youth. Through the TRADART Foundation, we are able to develop and shine a light on these career paths, and help our students cultivate real-world skills that can lead to a career right out of high school, or leave them better prepared for higher education.”
The Tiny Houses program is offered to Advanced Woodworking and Construction Technology students from local high schools, including Santa Barbara High, Dos Pueblos High and San Marcos High. Over the course of two years, students prep and construct three fully functioning 230-square-foot houses—complete with a bathroom, kitchen and a loft fit for a queen-sized bed— from the ground up. The houses are built on top of DMV-registered trailers, and are completely mobile.
“We’re so proud to share the success of this innovative new Tiny House program. It’s a testament to the power of public-private partnerships, and we are so thrilled to see the students succeed in such a tremendous accomplishment!” shares Leslie Meadowcroft-Schipper, Founder of the TRADART Foundation.
Along with the Tiny Houses project, the TRADART Foundation is involved with a number of other programs that focus on supporting the development of career technical education initiatives in local schools, including Tools for Schools, which provides and distributes tools, supplies, building materials, and support to woodshop and construction technology classes, as well as the Industrial Arts Skills Passport, which provides a framework for and a record of students’ completed shop class training to equip students with the tools and skills necessary to successfully enter the building and trades industries. And to give students an even bigger sneak peek into these industries, TRADART partners with several local organizations and industry leaders throughout the year to host upwards of four “Career Days” for a trade-show-esque showcase of their skills and professions.
“The TRADART Foundation believes that all of our children should have both access and opportunity for educational equity and career opportunities,” says Leslie, “Career and technical education is one way to address equity, while giving students the skills they need for the real-world and careers. To that end, the TRADART Foundation continues to garner support from community members, educators, and industry leaders in Santa Barbara to join our mission.”
The community is invited to preview the Tiny Houses, as well as enjoy students’ finished Woodshop and Construction Technology projects on display at “The Big Show” on Wednesday, May 23 from 5 to 7 p.m., at Earl’s Place at Earl Warren Showgrounds (open to the public). Starting that evening, the Tiny Houses are up for auction, open to the highest bidder until June 8. Proceeds from the auction go to fund the next two-year cycle, making the program completely self-sustainable.
For more information about the Tiny Houses program and the TRADART Foundation, visit tradartfoundation.org