Despite the ongoing demand for new talent in the collision repair industry, collision schools often struggle to attract and retain interested students due to a lack of updated tools, equipment and supplies, often caused by underfunded programs.

The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) seeks to alleviate some of those financial burdens on behalf of the instructors educating the industry’s future workforce by filling those gaps through its 2023 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants. Completing CREF’s online application will qualify collision schools to receive up to $25,000 in funding.

“It’s often difficult for instructors---and the schools themselves---to maintain a program at its currently capability level, let alone advance the program, due to tremendous budgetary pressure. Yet constantly advancing technology necessitates that programs keep up with the ongoing changes in the industry to ensure the industry’s future workforce is prepared to enter shops with the skills necessary to make them a valuable part of the team,” stressed Melissa Marscin, director of operations/administration for CREF. “Thanks to the continued generosity of many in the collision repair community, CREF’s Benchmark Grant program offers vital funding for those schools to equip their programs with the materials and support necessary for elevating students’ educational experience in accordance with industry standards.”

In 2022, the industry’s generous support enabled CREF to award $436,000 in Benchmark Grants to nearly 70 collision schools, impacting more than 35,000 students. Additionally, CREF distributed more than $10 million worth of in-kind donations, including parts, products, quarter panels, subscriptions, safety equipment and more.

Applications opened Feb. 7 with a deadline of June 28. Apply for a Student Scholarship online.

Since 2009, CREF has facilitated the industry’s generosity to provide collision repair educational programs with cash and in-kind donations. Learn how to direct a monetary or in-kind donation to a specific school in your market area by clicking here.

CREF’s 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, ensuring graduates are prepared to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation.

The Benchmark Grant application allows instructors to request specific items that are needed to help them advance their curriculum, and applying schools that are not selected for grant funds are still eligible to receive a variety of tools, equipment and supplies donated by industry sponsors and supporters.

Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can contact us to learn about the many ways to get involved. Monetary donations can be made online.

Source: CREF

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