The Collision Repair Education Foundation on Tuesday announced its mission to help needy auto body vo-tech programs had been jeopardized a lack of resources on its own part.
There are a couple of bright spots on the horizon. On Tuesday, CREF said eight “extremely generous” insurers had stepped up to support the organization. On Thursday, it announced it would auction off a 3M-donated trip to meet Chip Foose and use those proceeds to support high school and college programs this school year.
In its news release recognizing Allstate, Erie, Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, State Farm and USAA for coming to the rescue, CREF said donations were “down nearly 50 percent due to COVID-19, putting critical programs, including school grants and support, in jeopardy for 2020 and beyond.”
“The industry has always placed a premium on education and investing in the next generation of collision repair professionals,” CREF Executive Director Clark Plucinski said a statement. “With so many of our own facing difficult times, we know giving can be challenging. I would like to thank the insurance community for mobilizing to support our work and humbly call on those in position to offer their support to do so. No donation is too big or too small.”
Even with the insurers’ donations, CREF’s income remains down about 50 percent, development director Brandon Eckenrode said Thursday. He noted the lack of revenue from events like career fairs as well.
“Our school and countless students have benefitted greatly from the support of the Collision Repair Education Foundation,” Laura Salas, a collision instructor at San Pablo, Calif.-based Contra Costa College, said in a statement. “Without access to the resources they provide, we may not have much of a program at all. Those that can support CREF will receive value back in spades, as today’s aspiring collision repair professionals are smart, motivated, and ready to work. They just need the chance to keep learning.”
The organization helps schools’ collision programs obtain the equipment, tools, materials, and classroom environment to both produce better job candidates for the industry and attract prospective students in the first place.
“Erie Insurance is proud to support the Collision Repair Education Foundation in their critical mission of promoting and training men and women for careers in the collision repair industry,” Erie material damage claims Vice President Shane Wohlrabe said in a statement.
Postsecondary collision programs completions dropped from 5,564 in 2017 to 5,426 in 2018, according to the latest TechForce Foundation research on Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System statistics. Meanwhile, TechForce found the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 4.1 percent increase in demand for collision technicians between 2018 and 2028.
“GEICO is extremely proud to work with CREF and their efforts to encourage and support men and women across the country who are looking for a chance to start a solid career with unlimited growth opportunities,” GEICO claims Associate Vice President D. Ryan West said in a statement. “The Collision Repair Industry is a wonderful place to develop and match your skills to a service that is in great demand.”
Chip Foose event, hood sales
CREF this year also announced a fundraising auction series of “unique, one-of-a-kind experiences and items” aimed at industry buyers and “auto enthusiasts around the country and globe.” It kicked off with the sale of a visit to Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage, which certainly fits that bill.
On Thursday, CREF announced it would auction “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Chip Foose and tour Foose Design” — with Foose himself hosting the tour. Roundtrip airfare and autographs are also included.
“The passion for cars and restoring the beauty is a talent and art we must continue to foster and bring to the Collision Industry,” Foose said in a statement. “I learned from my dad at an early age and want to continue to give-back and support the talented people in the early stages of their careers.”
“Inspiring new talent to join and become part of the Collision Industry is imperative and 3M wants to do their part to ensure technicians have the right tools for the job and continue to build a passion for the industry,” Lori Tempelis, automotive aftermarket sales and marketing director for Foose trip donor 3M, said in a statement.
Foose fans also can help out would-be technicians by purchasing one of 150 Hire Our Heroes-themed mini-hoods autographed by Foose.
3M and CREF collaborate on the Hire Our Heroes program, which encourages collision careers among veterans by providing scholarships and tool grants.
“Funds raised from this fundraiser will help CREF provide tool grants to Hire Our Heroes recipients and allow veterans and/or their family members studying collision repair start off their careers with needed tools,” CREF said of the Foose hoods.
A $250 donation will get you one of 135 mini hoods autographed by Foose. $500 buys one of 15 hoods carrying both a signature and a Foose custom car drawing. Buy one here.
Correction: An earlier version of this report failed to identify Nationwide one of the eight insurers who stepped up to support CREF. The article has since been corrected to recognize Nationwide too.
Collision Repair Education Foundation, Sept. 17, 2020
Buy a Chip Foose Hire Our Heroes hood (scroll down to bottom of the CREF news release)
Featured images: Chip Foose signed 150 mini hoods — and did custom car drawings as well on 15 of them — in a fundraiser for 3M and the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s Hire Our Heroes program. (Provided by CREF)