Workshop for Warriors Receives a $500,000 for Scholarships

Donation to Provide Funds for Scholarships

By Rachel McGrath

Front Row, left to right: Kathy Looman, Gene Haas Foundation administrator; with scholarship recipients Navy Seaman Apprentice Melissa Mays, Marine Cpl. James Kench, Marine Lance. Cpl. Mike Casey, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Madurski, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Chambers, retired Navy Lieutenant Hernán Luis y Prado, founder and president of Workshop for Warriors. Back row, left to right: Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Derick Beecher, Navy Petty Officer Second Class Josh Allen, Navy Petty Officer Second Class Josh Tanida, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Chris Castillo and member of the Air Force Reserves.

Special to The Star 

The Gene Haas Foundation is donating half a million dollars for a scholarship fund to help military veterans who enroll in a program that trains them to become skilled machinists. 

The foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of Haas Automation in Oxnard, awarded the money as a matching grant to Workshops for Warriors in San Diego. 

The nonprofit organization has raised the matching $500,000 from local community sources. 
The support we have received from the foundation has been transformative for our organization and has been the backbone of being able to provide the top level training we offer our students,said Ana Claudia Guedes, executive vice president of Workshops for Warriors. It is a rallying cry to our neighbors and the industry to support what were doing for our veterans,she said. 

The Gene Haas Foundation has supported Workshops for Warriors since it was founded by Hernan Luis y Prado, a retired navy veteran in 2012.

Haas Automation donated more than $400,000 worth of computer numerically controlled machines to the organization and the Gene Haas Foundation followed with a challenge grant of $100,000. 

The foundation donates to charities at the discretion of company founder Gene Haas. The work that Hernan is doing is great. Itis just amazing,said Haas spokesman Peter Zierhut. We will continue to support Workshop for Warriors.

Zierhut said one reason is the shortage of skilled machinists to fill jobs in the manufacturing industry, jobs that are generally well-paid and offer good working conditions and benefits. By supporting quality training programs labor, Haas is supporting the industry as a whole and especially in Southern California.

The other reason for supporting Workshops for Warriors is to give back to those who have served the United States in the military, Zierhut said.  “Veterans are a great pool of people whohave worked hard for their country and often come back not clear about where theyare going to go and what theyare going to do,”” he said.

Guedes said that the nonprofit has a 100 percent success rate in job placement and retention. The tuition is free but requires full-time attendance five days a week, and that is where the foundations scholarship grant is so beneficial.

“”The challenge for our students is that we do not pay them to be here,” said Guedes.  So our goal is to be able to offset some of their expenses while they are in the program so they can complete the training.  She said 30 veterans currently are enrolled in the machinist training program. Nine will receive grants immediately under the new scholarship program.

She said scholarships are awarded to students based on demonstrable need, academic achievement and moral character.

“”Our students succeed in an industry that our country needs to succeed,she said. The Gene Haas Foundation has been supportive at every step of our organizations growth.””