CREF Opens Benchmark Grants Applications

The Collision Repair Education Foundation's grants provide up to $25,000 per school to pay for tools and hands-on learning opportunities.


In an industry where practical, hands-on experience is invaluable, collision repair education programs face significant challenges due to funding constraints. However, the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) is making strides to change this narrative by offering Benchmark Grants that have proven to be a lifeline.

Applications for the 2024 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants are due June 28 and are available here. Schools can receive up to $25,000 in funding.

“Over the years, even going back to 2008 when I was a student, we’ve applied for CREF’s Benchmark Grants and received a ton of support every year,” said Laura Lozano, professor of collision repair technology and automotive department co-chair at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, CA. “The biggest grant we received was $50,000, which was amazing, but all of the awards we have received have gone toward purchasing new equipment and tools, whether that’s been to replace older equipment or to keep up with advancing technology. As a result, students get to learn and practice with newer tools and equipment, and that has been super helpful when it comes to keeping them engaged in the program.”

The grants allow schools to update or replace old equipment, purchase additional tools to avoid sharing among a large number of students, and create more hands-on learning opportunities. Lozano emphasized the importance of individual lab activities facilitated by these grants, which are crucial for maintaining student focus and interest.

Lozano sees the comprehensive nature of the application process for the Benchmark Grants as an opportunity to involve the industry more closely in the educational process. Advisory committees play a big role in guiding the application process, thereby fostering a collaborative environment that benefits students and the industry alike.

In 2023, CREF awarded $678,500 in Benchmark Grants to more than 100 schools and distributed more than $10 million in in-kind donations, vital for programs struggling with limited budgets.

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