The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) announced that GEICO has donated $30,000 to their COVID-19 School Recovery Fund. After donating $15,000 to the COVID School Recovery Fund in 2020, GEICO continued supporting CREF by donating $100,000 in 2021, with $15,000 reserved specifically for CREF’s COVID relief initiative.
Since the budgets of many collision programs have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, CREF is spreading the wealth – GEICO’s donation will be equally divided between six educational facilities to supplement their budgets, allowing them to enhance their students’ learning experience and elevate the caliber of their graduates.
“GEICO is focused on giving our customers a great experience from start to finish, and our support for the Collision Repair Education Foundation is an extension of that,” said D. Ryan West, assistant vice president of Florida claims for GEICO. “This donation will help CREF develop trained, qualified repair professionals, enhance the repair industry and provide career pathways for young people – all of which will greatly benefit our customers.”
CREF created the COVID-19 School Recovery Fund in April 2020 to encourage the industry to “save collision education.” Of the auto body trade schools surveyed, 45% reported budget cuts for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and 65% confirmed budget cuts for the 2020-2021 school year due to the coronavirus. The programs’ inability to purchase the tools, equipment, consumables and safety items needed to effectively educate their students could produce a detriment for the industry, which already struggles with a shortage of qualified collision repair technicians.
GEICO’s COVID-19 School Recovery Fund donation secured $5,000 grants for six schools:
- Lake Technical College (Eustis, Fla.)
- Honolulu Community College (Honolulu, Hawaii)
- Walker High School (Walker, La.)
- Oxford Hills Technical School/Maine Vocational Region 11 (Norway, Maine)
- Mid-Del Technology Center (Midwest City, Okla.)
- Mercer County Technical Education Center (Princeton, W.V.)
Eligibility for these awards was achieved by applying for CREF’s 2020 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grant. 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, ensuring that graduates are prepared to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation.
Applications for the 2021 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants will be available online in March 2021.
Industry members interested in supporting CREF should contact Brandon Eckenrode at (312) 231-0258 or [email protected]. Monetary donations can be made online.