Insurer also donates record 30 vehicles to schools last year.
Continuing its collaboration with the Collision Repair Education Foundation, Farmers Insurance sponsored five $3,000 Benchmark Grants to support collision repair education programs at secondary and post-secondary schools. Instructors use donated funds to enhance their educational offerings and help ensure that the students graduating from their programs are prepared to enter a career in the collision repair industry.
“The Farmers team is proud of our longstanding dedication to giving back and helping make a positive impact in the communities we’re proud to serve,” said Gerald Poirier, strategy and process lead for Farmers Insurance. “As an insurer, Farmers knows how invaluable collision repair work can be in getting customers back on the road after an accident and we hope our contribution helps strengthen the collision repair education programs.”
Farmers Insurance awarded five $3,000 grants to:
- Livermore High School (Livermore, CA)
- Dos Palos High School (Dos Palos, CA)
- Kingwood Park High School (Kingwood, TX)
- JB Hensler College and Career Academy aka Alvin ISD (Manvel, TX)
- South Plains College (Levelland, TX)
The Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants recognize schools that excel at educating students in collision repair, but due to strained school budgets, the programs require additional financial assistance. Recipient schools use these funds to provide the tools, equipment and supplies necessary to enhance their students’ learning experience and elevate the caliber of their graduates, helping ensure that graduates are prepared to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation. Applications for the 2022 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants will be available online in January 2022.
Record School Vehicle Donations in 2021
The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and Farmers Insurance also announced that their vehicle donation program to support collision schools had its biggest year ever in 2021.
“By the end of November, we already had delivered over 30 vehicles to schools so far in 2021 with many others in progress,” stated Ken Kowalski, auto salvage consultant for Farmers Insurance. “Previously, our biggest year was 28 donations in 2019. This year, we’re proud to announce that we’ve set a new record for donations delivered.”
Since the program began in 2016, it has not only grown ─ it has evolved. The program’s original iteration called for vehicles to be repaired by students and sold at auction, with the proceeds benefiting both CREF and the participating school. In addition to selling the vehicle at no charge, Copart donated towing services to help ensure the vehicles reached the schools.
“We have come a long way from those beginnings,” Kowalski noted. “We learned that different schools have very different needs. While some schools repair vehicles to return them to service, others use vehicles to help teach students to use frame machines. Others are used repeatedly for students to learn assembly and disassembly or as a classroom learning aid, and some are repaired.”
After repairing donated vehicles, several schools have then partnered with the National Auto Body Council (NABC) to give the vehicle to someone in need through the Recycled Rides program. Kowalski shared one of his favorite uses of a donated vehicle: “After repairing the vehicle, the school gave it to a low-income student who was graduating from the program to ensure they would have transportation to get to their new job at a body shop.”
The current program has been streamlined for simplicity. After identifying a school in need of a vehicle donation, the Foundation acts as liaison between Farmers Insurance and the school, facilitating completion of vehicle selection, and title transfers, ultimately resulting in the vehicle being delivered to the school.
“Cars are definitely the most requested item from school collision programs,” stated Melissa Marscin, director of operations and administration for CREF. “We are very grateful to Farmers for stepping up to help fulfill this need and to give students the ability to practice on newer vehicles.”
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs should contact Brandon Eckenrode, Managing Director, at 312-231-0258 or Brandon.Eckenrode@ed-foundation.org. Monetary donations can be made online.