12 Steps to Starting Your SkillsUSA Year

Get your SkillsUSA chapter started by following these 12 steps:

Secure support from your school administration

  • Successful SkillsUSA chapters work with school administrators from the onset. It is essential to receive permission and support from your administration to start a SkillsUSA chapter.
  • If you haven’t already started your chapter, then resources to assist you in securing support from your school administration can be found in the booklet, Simple Steps to Start a SkillsUSA Chapter. Request your free copy by calling the SkillsUSA Membership Hotline at 800-355-8422. These resources are also available for immediate download by visiting our website at: www.skillsusa.org
  • Review this SkillsUSA administrator flier. This flier is designed to highlight the value and importance of SkillsUSA to your administrator
  • The Talking Points for Administrator Meeting provides a step-by-step discussion guide for this important meeting. This is your guide to introducing the flier to your administrator and highlighting the benefits of a SkillsUSA chapter.
  • Set up a meeting with your administrator. A minimum of 30 minutes should be scheduled to allow enough time to review the materials and answer questions
  • Once you receive permission from your school administration, you are ready to get the chapter organized

Connect to your state SkillsUSA director

Connecting to your state SkillsUSA director will ensure you are included on future mailing lists and are up to date on all upcoming events and activities. Your state SkillsUSA director can also provide you with assistance in getting your SkillsUSA chapter running.

  • A complete listing of state SkillsUSA directors and their contact information can be found at: www.skillsusa.org/about/dir4.shtml
  • Once you have received support from your administration and connected with your state SkillsUSA director, it is time to make the formation of your chapter official if it is a new chapter. Both a charter and constitution must be submitted to your state SkillsUSA director.
  • A SkillsUSA sample chapter charter is provided on our website at: www.skillsusa-register.org and clicking on the header “Start a Chapter.” Download and complete a charter, and have your administrator sign it. Students can also be involved in this process and share their excitement about the new chapter by delivering the charter to the administrator for his or her signature.
  • Along with the charter, the chapter must submit a constitution. A sample constitution is also provided on the website at: www.skillsusa-register.org and clicking the header, “Start a Chapter.”

Incorporate SkillsUSA into your program

Incorporate SkillsUSA into your syllabus, and include Membership Form, Parent Letter and SkillsUSA Brochure that showcases the value of SkillsUSA for students.

  • Don’t miss this fundamental opportunity to start the year off right. Ensure parents and families understand that SkillsUSA is an integral component of your career and technical program by placing information directly into your syllabus to illustrate its importance. Check the Membership Kit DVD for templates to use.
  • SkillsUSA activities and programs develop students in three distinct areas: technical skills that are grounded in academics, workplace skills and personal skills. Families will appreciate that their student is becoming more employable and gaining a competitive advantage in the job market through their SkillsUSA experiences.

Create excitement and awareness of SkillsUSA

Now is the time to build excitement about this new opportunity called SkillsUSA. Inform students about the benefits of involvement and encourage them to join.

Create excitement and awareness by showing students the SkillsUSA kickoff video.

Video introduces the theme for the year, Educated and Skilled to Lead America, and walks students through their year of engagement in SkillsUSA activities and programming. Videos can be located on the Membership Kit DVD.

  • Executive Director Tim Lawrence addresses students in a video designed especially for them. Also, make sure to catch Tim’s video to teachers and learn why, as a former instructor, he felt it was so important to engage all of his students in SkillsUSA.
  • Students will catch the enthusiasm of SkillsUSA participation by seeing firsthand students who are involved in conferences, either competing or on stage representing their chapter.
  • Hold a membership recruitment drive and encourage everyone to join. Create incentives for students to join (door prizes, drawings, special snacks). Get creative and have fun!

Select your first meeting date

Don’t lose a minute in getting your students engaged in SkillsUSA activities. After you have made them aware of the opportunities and created excitement around SkillsUSA, then set your first meeting date and advertise!

  • Customize the Meeting Promo Flier with specific meeting information. Display the fliers through your classroom and school so members and potential members are aware of the upcoming meeting. Template for flier is included on the Membership Kit DVD.
  • If possible, arrange for refreshments at your meeting. (A few soft drinks and chips go a long way in making students feel welcomed, or try orange juice and doughnuts if it is a morning meeting.)
  • Because of the integral nature of SkillsUSA and the leadership skills that are learned from students being actively engaged, many chapters will hold their meetings during the school day within each class period to give everyone an opportunity to be involved.
  • Create an agenda for this meeting that includes upcoming dates of any SkillsUSA state-related activities or conferences. Also discuss the upcoming election of officers, their responsibilities and any other pertinent information. Include information about being selected to serve as a committee chair for the Program of Work. Visit: www.skillsusa.org/educators/chapmanage4.shtml for sample agendas and other chapter meeting tools.

Hold Officer elections

Hold officer elections, select committee chairs and dive into the Program of Work.

  • Once officers are elected, your chapter moves from advisor-led to advisor-supported. Students take the lead with SkillsUSA; serving as a chapter officer is one of the best ways for students to hone their workplace and leadership skills.
  • Allow officers to organize the agenda and manage the chapter meeting. Ensure all parts of the Program of Work are built into your yearly calendar.
  • Train your local chapter officers to lead their organization! You will be so impressed by how training your officers becomes a win-win for everyone as they develop into professionals and you, as the advisor, are able to be a facilitator of their learning. Consider purchasing the Leveraging Your Leadership with Effective Chapter Meetings, Teacher’s Kit. In six short lessons, your officers will be able to plan an agenda, organize and run a meeting, and operate committees to create a successful chapter. You will be amazed at their progress and skills!

Introduce SkillsUSA Points for Professional Development

Introduce SkillsUSA Points for Professional Development and Leadership to earn recognition.

  • Validate your students’ involvement in SkillsUSA. Students gain valuable professional development and leadership skills through participation in chapter activities. Acknowledge the importance of those skills by linking them to a point system that recognizes and honors students.
  • Recognition of students can come in many different forms and increments. Consider honoring students on a monthly, quarterly, semester and yearly basis. Students with the most points on a monthly basis might be named SkillsUSA Member of the Month, treated to a special breakfast or lunch at school, or receive recognition by their peers and faculty through being included in morning announcements, school newsletters or other promotional pieces. Semester recipients might have a luncheon meeting with the school principal, dean, chancellor or a member from the business community to share their SkillsUSA experiences, or they could win a gift card or snack, drink and ticket to a movie theater. For yearly recognition, consider SkillsUSA honor cords, stoles or letters. Be creative and unique; make the recognition something that suits your student body. Located on the Membership Kit DVD is a sample template of SkillsUSA Points for Professional Development and Leadership.

Display the SkillsUSA theme poster

Introduce your students to the theme and use one of the poster theme activities that are included in the Membership Kit to lead a discussion with students.

  • After the discussion, place the poster in a prominent location either in the classroom or hallway outside.
  • Throughout the year, ensure you use the theme for the year in promotional materials, presentations and programs, as well as any way in which you reach out to your stakeholders. Garner their excitement for your SkillsUSA chapter with a consistent message.

Display the SkillsUSA program poster

Discuss with students how SkillsUSA programs include local, state and national opportunities in which students can demonstrate their technical, workplace and personal skills. These three components comprise the framework of the SkillsUSA organization. SkillsUSA programs are integral to the career and
technical classroom and lab.

  • After the discussion, have students list the top three programs they are interested in knowing more about. Students can then divide into groups based on their interests and work together to learn more about the program and how they can get involved in it on the local level.
  • Students can form committees that meet and activate an implementation plan for the program.
  • Place the poster in a prominent location either in the classroom or hallway outside.
  • Support, encourage and recognize students’ efforts as they pursue different programs. Ensure that everyone gets involved in some type of SkillsUSA programming.

Show the SkillsUSA membership PowerPoint

  • Invite student members to “meet and greet” parents and any nonmembers. Encourage college/postsecondary members to invite their families to attend the open house.
  • Have plenty of copies of the SkillsUSA Brochure for students to take home and discuss with their parents. Template of the SkillsUSA Brochure is located on the Membership Kit DVD.
  • Consider this a recruitment opportunity for your technical program and SkillsUSA chapter.
  • Either allow the presentation to play as parents and students visit your classroom/lab, or …
  • If possible, have parents and students seated and present the PowerPoint to them. An extra bonus is to have SkillsUSA members present selected slides or even give short testimonials on why they benefit from being involved in SkillsUSA. PowerPoint can be found on the Membership Kit DVD.

Include administrators in your early success

As you kick off your year and get everyone engaged in your chapter, be sure to share the excitement and success with your administrators and guidance counselors.

  • Chapter officers can send an official invitation to administrators, deans or faculty members asking that they bring greetings to the members during an upcoming chapter meeting. This will give administrators an opportunity to see the student members in action and using their leadership skills. Have a chapter officer follow up by sending a thank-you card.
  • Your students are the stars of your organization, so don’t miss any opportunity to spread the message about their success and involvement in SkillsUSA activities and programs. Local newspapers appreciate positive stories to share with their communities.
  • Continuously consider ways to keep all your stakeholders involved and aware of your chapter.

Register yourself and your students as members of SkillsUSA

Register your members by visiting www.skillsusa-register.org and selecting the “Login” header. Contact Judy Garrison at jgarrison@skillsusa.org or at 703-737-0616 if you do not see your school listed on the online registration system.

  • For additional help in establishing your SkillsUSA chapter, call the SkillsUSA Membership Hotline: 800-355-8422.
  • Celebrate the incredible opportunities that you, as an advisor, are making available to your students. You are changing students’ lives – one student at a time!