CREF Facilitates More Than $130K in Awards to Nearly 90 Collision Students


The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) is proud to announce the recipients of its 2023 Scholarships and Tool Grants, funded through the generosity of a multitude of industry partners, both small and large. 

With the industry’s support, CREF funded more than $130,000 in 2023 scholarships and tool grants, benefitting nearly 90 individual collision students, as part of its ongoing efforts to support future collision repair industry professionals as they obtain their educations.

“CREF is honored to recognize these outstanding students through the 2023 scholarships and tool grants,” said Melissa Marscin, director of operations and administration for CREF. “These students are truly committed to pursuing their education and in becoming part of the collision industry, and we hope these awards help to contribute to their successful careers.”

3M funded more than $30,000 in scholarships and tool grants to benefit military veterans around the country and help them further their careers. In addition to a $2,000 Hire Our Heroes Scholarship and three traditional Hire Our Heroes Tool Grants, valued at $1,500 each, 3M also awarded $500 tool grants to 50 students, with eligibility being established through completion of an abridged application. 

3M’s 2023 Hire Our Heroes Family Scholarship was awarded to Zachary Castner, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI.

Three traditional Hire Our Heroes Tool Grants, valued at $1,500 each, were awarded to:

  • Anthony Cady, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Ian Irwin, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL
  • Dawson Olnes, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, NE

In its 11th year, the annual Hire Our Heroes program is a part of 3M’s ongoing efforts to provide military veterans with educational opportunities in the collision repair industry, and the grants are open to collision repair students who currently serve, or recently served, in the U. S. military. Since 3M began the Hire Our Heroes program in 2013, more than $1.2 million in scholarships and tool grants have been awarded to more than 330 military veterans and their immediate family members pursuing a career in collision repair. Criteria to be considered for the Hire Our Heroes awards and grants includes financial need, future plans and past academic achievement.

Three lucky students were named the recipients of this year’s Adelmann Family Scholarships and Tool Grants. Each 2023 winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship and $2,000 toward tools to be used during their educational training, with an additional $2,000 tool grant being awarded upon job placement within the industry.

The recipients of the 2023 Adelmann Family Scholarships and Tool Grants include:

  • Antonio M Diaz, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL
  • Matthew Nordahl, Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN
  • Makiah Stacy, Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, IA

Borne of a desire to amplify CREF’s efforts to help schools and students at a higher level, the scholarships were established in 2021 by retired industry veteran Tim Adelmann as a means of leaving a lasting legacy on the industry he loves.

Four students with a special interest in the painting segment of the industry will receive scholarships funded by the PPG Foundation. Each recipient will be awarded $5,000 which will help recipients fund their education and ensure they have the opportunity to pursue a future career in the collision repair industry.

Recipients of PPG’s 2023 student scholarships, who will receive $5,000 each, include:

  • Taison Long, Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY
  • Reimy Santiago De La Cruz, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, PA
  • Arthur Stan, Portland Community College, Portland, OR
  • Kade Stahl, Lake Area Technical College, Watertown, SD

BASF awarded six tool grants, valued at $2,000 each, to deserving students as a way to help them prepare for their future collision industry careers. 

Recipients of BASF’s 2023 tool grants include:

  • Kyara Cowan, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL
  • Gabriela Diaz, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL
  • Elisaa McAdams, Nashville Auto Diesel College, Nashville, TN
  • Brent Paige, Santana High School, Santee, CA
  • Kaden Riehl, Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, Willow Street, PA
  • Diego Velez, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, NE

OEM Roundtable is excited to announce it funded five post-secondary collision student scholarships, valued at $2,000 each, through CREF. 

Recipients of OEM Roundtable’s 2023 scholarships include:

  • Hannah Eveland, Minnesota State College Southeast, Winona, MN
  • Eric Corona, Kennedy-King College, Chicago, IL
  • Jackson Dao, Lexington Technology Center, Lexington, SC
  • Jovie Skinner, Rosedale Technical College, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Aucasia Berry, Lawson State Community College, Birmingham, AL

Thanks to a generous donation from CCC, three lucky post-secondary students will receive a 2023 CCC Michael Salvatore Repair Technician Scholarship, valued at $3,000 each. CCC’s ongoing dedication to the industry helps ensure that these students and others have the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their goals.

Recipients of CCC’s 2023 student scholarships include:

  • Anthony Toney, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL
  • Bernard Anane, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
  • Jose Padilla, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL

The winner of the $2,000 CREF Board of Trustees Scholarship is Giovanni Gonzalez-Hernandez, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville, NC. Funded by current members of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, this scholarship provides students with financial assistance to be used towards tuition and other costs associated with their education in collision repair.

The Sulkala Family Scholarship, valued at $2,000, was awarded to Casey Atkins, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL. Administered by the foundation, the Sulkala Family Scholarship was created to honor the 50-year career and legacy of Chuck Sulkala, founder and executive director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), who retired in 2018.

Created to honor Lon Baudoux, I-CAR development manager who passed away in 2008, the Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship is funded primarily by I-CAR staff and instructors who worked with Baudoux, in recognition of the importance he placed on secondary and post-secondary collision repair students receiving a proper education. Scholarship funds are designed to help students finance their education. Recipients are selected based on academic excellence, as well as participation in outside activities, such as sports, clubs and volunteer work.

The two students will each receive a $2,500 Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship are:

  • Adam Perrin, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, NE
  • Sierra Fahley, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI

The inaugural Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship, valued at $2,000, was awarded to Robbie McDonald, Lincoln College of Technology, Nashville, TN. Established in December 2022, the Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship honors the memory and long-lasting legacy of Jeff Silver, a respected trailblazer and leader in industry repair standards. During his tenure with I-CAR, Silver’s concern with the lack of workers entering the skilled trades led to the establishing of CREF in 1991 in an effort to attract young people to the collision repair industry and to support the training institutions providing their educations. Due to Silver’s love for the collision industry and his dedication to ensuring the next generation would enjoy the same opportunities within the field, the Silver family believes the Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship, designed to help remove financial barriers for students studying collision repair, is the perfect way to continue the legacy he left behind.

Driven Brands awarded the 2023 Tim Clark Memorial Scholarship to David Aguirre, Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL, who received a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward tuition, books and tools. The Tim Clark Memorial Scholarship was established in 2015 after Tim Clark, a 37-year industry veteran and executive at Fix Auto USA, passed away. As a strong advocate for education and seeking one’s higher purpose in life, Clark left directions and funding to initiate the scholarship, which was embraced by Driven Brands and CREF in an effort to continue his legacy. Donations can be made to CREF in direct support of the Fix Auto USA—Tim Clark Memorial Scholarship to ensure more students have continued access to an education in the collision repair industry.

Eric Garcia, Kennedy-King College, Chicago, IL, received the 2023 Ron Ray Memorial Tool Grant, valued at $500. This memorial fund was established in 2020 in honor of CREF’s former Executive Director Ron Ray, who was instrumental in developing CREF into the organization it has become.

Lastly, four outstanding students will benefit from JW Bagley Foundation Scholarships, a non-industry entity that supports CREF’s mission and provided $2,500 toward each student’s education costs. The lucky recipients of these scholarships are:

  • Jonathan Aguirre Vivas, Piscatway Magnet School, Piscataway, NJ
  • Peter Rozeboom, Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN
  • Aleah Sauder, Marengo Community High School, Marengo, IL
  • Dominic Tello, Metro Community College, Omaha, NE

Secondary and post-secondary collision repair education students were eligible for these awards, which provide students with financial support to enable them to continue their education and prepare them for a successful career in body shops around the country.

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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