Even in these uncertain economic times, the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Foundation is still receiving support from manufacturers.

The Gene Haas Foundation, Amada America and the CNA Insurance Foundation contributed grants totaling $100,000 to help fund the winners of its 2009 manufacturing camp grant awards.

Each year, with the support of sponsor companies, the NBT awards grants to not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions that offer overnight or day camp experiences which introduce young people ages 12 to 16 to careers in manufacturing and engineering.

The Gene Haas Foundation based in Oxnard, Calif., donated $50,000 to support 10 summer camps for one year. Amada America in Buena Park, Calif., contributed $40,000 to support three camps for three consecutive years; and Chicago-based CNA Insurance provided $10,000 to fund two camps for one year.

“We are very appreciative of the generous donations from these manufacturing companies who are helping to inspire the next generation of engineers, builders and manufacturers,” said actor John Ratzenberger, an NBT founder. “There is an ever-increasing demand for highly skilled professionals who can design, program and operate technology. Creating a skilled work force in the trades is vital to the future of America, and it all starts with getting young people to take pride in tinkering.”

“Manufacturing camp grants help to provide positive, hands-on experiences so young people will consider manufacturing as a career option, and ultimately increase the pool of available, highly skilled workers in the country,” said Terrence Egan, NBT director. “We thank the Gene Haas Foundation, Amada America and CNA Insurance for making this investment in the future manufacturing work force of America.”

The camps target high school students, exposing them to math, science and engineering principles, and giving them opportunities to see the technology being used in industry and the high level of skills that will be required from the work force.

“These camps provide youth with the exposure to vocational and technical trades that no longer exist in all public education systems,” Egan added. “Motivating youth to consider these trades will have a positive effect on graduation rates, increase the chance for them to earn a living wage, and create a more qualified work force and community development in impoverished areas.”

NBT recently launched a program that allows people to donate to the organization by simply texting “123” to the number “90999” from their cell phone. Supporters will be prompted to confirm their gift by replying with the word “yes.” The message generates a $5 donation charged directly to the caller’s cell phone bill.