The Construction of TRADART
Founded in the year 2000, in Santa Barbara, by Leslie Meadowcroft-Schipper, TRADART Foundation’s board members began working to salvage and maintain the remains of a once thriving woodshop program, which was part of the Industrial Arts program in the Santa Barbara School District back in the 1970’s. TRADART’s founding members firmly believed that students deserved the opportunity for an alternative to the academic-centric choices being offered.
Building a Stable Program
Just as a master craftsman needs time to acquire proficiency, TRADART Foundation itself persisted with its vision and mission. During meagerly funded years the Foundation supplied woodshop teachers with new equipment, support, and materials. By maintaining our presence in the District, we were holding the flame for students who later would see the trades as a first choice at high school. We were able to represent the importance of re-establishing vocational training in the educational pipeline.
By 2005 TRADART Foundation launched the Tools for Schools program and over the next several years, it worked singlehandedly with its partners from industry, stabilizing the presence of woodshop and construction classes in all six Santa Barbara Unified School District schools. Had it not been for TRADART and its partners, who equipped each shop with new machines, new tools, and materials such as lumber, there would be no Construction Technology Shop Class at Santa Barbara High School, La Cumbre Junior High School nor a shop class at San Marcos High School.
Our flagship program continued growing and, in 2011, once Career Technical Education grants came through the state, TRADART was in place as a partner for the K-14 pathway education. We would be the independent group of qualified industry specialists who could make the curriculum relevant and monitor that industry standards were being met throughout the District.
By the year 2015, due to TRADART Foundation’s enterprising efforts, the livelihood of the Construction Technology Woodshop classes was secured and better financed by the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
TRADART Foundation was a recipient of a portion of the Career Technical Education Grant in SBUSD for its work creating the first standardized Construction Technology Skills Passport. Now, this Career Technical Education Skills Passport is a requirement in all CTE programs in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
Also in 2015, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara gifted TRADART Foundation $50,000 so that the woodshop teachers could teach a real-life curriculum and build Tiny Houses as a two-year program.
Today and Our Vision for the Future
Today, there are six thriving Construction Technology Woodshop classes taught in Santa Barbara junior and high schools by six outstanding teachers. The students receive dual-enrollment credit from Santa Barbara City College.
TRADART Foundation is a choice partner with the Santa Barbara Unified School District, offering speakers in the classroom, volunteers, resume training, and Construction Technology Woodshop classes to more than 200 students each semester.
Much more work awaits us to achieve our ultimate goal of re-establishing learning the trades as a noble choice in the K-12 pathway and opening a construction academy.