An Adventure Subaru vehicle filled with donations for the Subaru Loves to Help initiative.
Many companies donate time, money, and resources to help families in their communities through difficult times and ever-growing expenses. Adventure Subaru of Northwest Arkansas takes it a step further, assisting people as they attain the skills to lift themselves above those challenges and move forward toward a fuller life.
The 23-year-old retailer, located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was named the 2022 Subaru Love Promise Retailer of the Year for its work with local nonprofit organizations. Over the past 10 years, Adventure Subaru has donated more than $3.2 million to 70-plus charities and initiatives in Northwest Arkansas, according to the retailer.
One of Adventure’s more unique and far-reaching collaborations is with the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, which provides grants and support services to single parents seeking college degrees. The results are life-changing: Through higher education and better-paying jobs, the Fund raises families’ living standards and inspires younger generations who see their parents achieve.
“We’re hoping to push up those folks, reduce their reliance on government funds and break the cycle of poverty,” said Tyler Clark, CEO of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Since its founding 38 years ago, the Fund has distributed more than $20 million to 10,000 eager students.
Still, the need is greater than the funds. Arkansas has the fourth highest child poverty rate in the U.S., largely due to low-income households headed by parents without higher education: Arkansas ranks near the bottom of U.S. states when it comes to the number of residents who have earned a bachelor's degree or higher.
This spring, enrollment in the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas jumped 25 percent to 188 students, up from the usual 145, who will utilize $392,000 in grant money. Recipients can use the funds for tuition, books, childcare and even emergency expenses like car repairs, Clark said.
The average grantee is a first-generation college student, about 32 years old, working a full-time job without health insurance and relying on government programs to supplement their income. Students can choose from 24 institutions, including state colleges that offer classes online.
Scholars have earned certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, and even a few medical degrees. Among the most popular majors are social work, nursing and education, often because families were helped by professionals in those areas and students are looking to pay it forward. “I’m so proud of our recipients,” Clark said. Those in the program must continue to meet certain standards, such as a minimum GPA.
Knowing how much single parents must juggle to attend college, the Fund provides multiple support services that include wellness and mental health counseling, help with applying for federal tuition grants and child support, resume assistance, tutoring, status checks and food benefits.
The impact of the program multiplies as the children of earlier grant recipients develop a college mindset. “For the second generation, it’s now a reality for them to go to college,” Clark said. “I love the stories of recipients doing homework at kitchen tables with their kids.”
“Supporters like Subaru helped make this possible,” Clark continued. “Subaru walks the walk and talks the talk. They do lots of community events and keep it local.”
Indeed, the automaker’s nationwide community outreach programs all feature a local focus. During the annual Subaru Share the Love Event, held between November and January, Subaru donates $250 to a customer’s chosen national or hometown charity for every new vehicle purchase or lease, plus an additional amount for hometown charities at participating retailers. “The amount the retailer contributes to the hometown charity will vary, anywhere from $50 to more than $250 per transaction,” said Danielle Dotson, marketing director of Adventure Subaru.
The Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas is one of these hometown charities. The collaboration began in 2017 when Adventure Subaru was a sponsor for one of the scholarship program’s fundraising events. One of the founders of the Fund is the late father-in-law of an Adventure salesperson. “When it came time to select hometown charities for 2020’s Share the Love event, [the Fund] seemed like a natural fit,” Dotson told us. “They have a wide reach and align with the values of the Subaru Love Promise by helping people in our community and making Northwest Arkansas a better place to live and work.”
Subaru is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, its vision and promise to be a positive force in the communities where Subaru and its retailers live and work. When deciding what programs to sponsor, among the factors Subaru retailers consider are which initiatives will have the greatest impact, how the community will be helped and who will be affected. “We want to know, ‘How can we be more than a car dealer? How can we actively make our community a better place?’” Dotson added.
More companies are starting to ask themselves the same questions. For many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call — revealing how widespread the nation’s needs are and how much work remains to be done to improve quality of life in U.S. communities. Many leaders realized if they weren’t already involved, it was time to get active.
“COVID-19 was a time to see what corporations were made of. It was a watershed moment. Everyone stepped up,” Clark observed. “You can't sit on the sidelines anymore if you are a corporation. If you couldn’t donate, you had to be onboard with your local community and find a fit for your business.”
The retailer’s work in Northwest Arkansas illustrates what’s possible when local businesses and nonprofits come together, and Dotson encouraged business leaders to reach out and connect with nonprofits in their communities.
“We like leading by example,” she said. “Local organizations are the heartbeat of the community, and we want to meet their needs and pledge to do more for the community. We know that businesses have an opportunity [to help]. You can do work, still sell cars, make people’s lives better and try to be better members of the community.”
Images courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.
This article series is sponsored by Subaru and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Ellen R. Delisio is a freelance writer and paraeducator who lives in Middletown, CT. Over the past 30 years, her writing has focused on life science, sustainability and education issues. Ellen is an avid reader and beach-goer.