The Foundations of Skilled Stewardship Program is a gap year program which trains men in the fundamentals of skilled work and spiritual maturity, whether they intend to continue on in the study of a specific skilled trade, to defer their college entrance to gain skills helpful to put themselves through college, or simply to become be an excellent, capable, and responsible man.


Many young men find themselves flailing about in the years following high school, with no clear purpose or ability to make good use of the opportunities ahead of them. The FSS program is designed to give such men a year of focus, discipline, and community, where they can learn how to become competent captains of their futures, their careers, and their education. The tool we use is training and experience in skilled work, but the goal is to help a young man transition to an intentional, mature, and self-reliant future.

Program Topics

This one-year residential program is designed to help men acquire fundamental skills and introductory experiences in the following disciplines:

  • Construction
  • Welding
  • Electrical Work
  • Carpentry
  • Home maintenance
  • HVAC
  • Automotive Repair and Maintenance
  • Machining
  • Plumbing

Your Future. Hands-On.

The FSS program is project-based. This means that instead of spending the majority of the time in classrooms or instructional labs, men will learn on custom job sites. The program also includes guided instruction on the ethics of work and character formation and S.W.E.A.T Pledge certification from the Mike Rowe Works Foundation curriculum.

Asselin Black Molitor - Laughing - photo credit to Rob Shumaker

“Harmel Academy is a place to grow and flourish, to be able to look at life in the trades and also as a Catholic working man…. It’s an easy way to build your strengths, and even find your weaknesses.”

— Matthew Asselin
Machine and Systems Technology, Class of 2022