Tools for Trades Program

The Tools for the Trades Scholarship is an innovative and unique award for graduating community college students trained for skilled trades careers, including plumbing, HVAC services, electrical, or carpentry fields.

Through a competitive application and review process, students are awarded a set of trade-specific, professional quality tools valued at approximately $500-$600.Tools in the sets, selected by industry professionals specifically for each trade and procured by the Shallow Ford Foundation, include items such as cordless drills, HVAC manifold sets, torch kits, pipe wrenches, pliers, voltage testers, and necessities such as headlamps, hammers, tape measures and bags to store it all.

The program is the result of the vision Jeff Vance, President and Owner of Gwyn Services. He recognized that many students entering the trade fields did not own commercial-grade tools, which are often required to secure a job. This frequently resulted in students either buying inexpensive tools which did not last, renting them at a higher cost, or taking out loans. While these trade professions are generally competitive in pay, a student new to the workforce can end up starting at a disadvantage. Jeff approached the Shallow Ford Foundation with his concept and we began a partnership to bring the concept to life. A seed gift from Gwyn Services and additional generous donations allowed for the first Tools for the Trades awards to be made in April of 2024 after a competitive award process.

A total of eight Forsyth Tech students from the Plumbing, HVAC, and Electrical programs were selected and received their sets in advance of their May graduation. Family members, educators, and classmates were all present for the award ceremony. We hope to continue and expand this program in the coming year, if donations can be secured to do so.

Expansion plans for the program include, but are not limited to: A December 2025 award of three tool sets for Plumbing students at Forsyth Tech who are finishing their program mid-year, adding the carpentry students in the Spring 2025 awards at Forsyth Tech, expanding to a total of up to 12 tool sets awarded among the 4 fields, and expansion to Surry Community College and Davidson-Davie Community College in spring of 2025, awarding up to 12 tool sets at each school (based on the programs offered). Other schools may be considered.

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