Kansas Auto Dealer Creates Scholarship Fund through NADA Foundation’s Ambassador Program

Published March 2, 2012

WICHITA, Kan. (March 2, 2012) - Kansas new-car dealer Les Eck is creating an annual scholarship fund of $2,000 to benefit college-bound students from his high school alma mater in Haven, Kan., set up by the Ambassadors program of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation.

Each year, a male and a female student from Haven High School, based on their financial need, will be chosen to receive a $1,000 scholarship to start their college careers, said Eck, who grew up in the city and graduated from the high school in 1970. Eck earned a business degree from Wichita State University.

“I went to my 40th high school reunion and sat next to a couple of scholarship recipients. They were so excited because they were getting a $300 scholarship,” said Eck, a lifelong resident of Kansas. “And I just thought to myself that this school afforded me a good education and a good strong upbringing in a small town and so I decided to give back.”

Eck, 59, a second generation auto dealer, set up the scholarship fund with a $30,000 donation to the NADA Foundation. He named Rusty Eck Ford-the dealership founded in Haven by his father in 1953-as an Ambassador of Distinction. He plans to award the scholarships every year in May.

“Education is the foundation of who you are,” said Eck, who owns and operates a Ford dealership in Wichita, Kan.; Ford and Toyota dealerships in Hutchinson, Kan.; and Honda, Nissan and Toyota dealerships in St. Joseph, Mo. “It's tough today to keep these small towns going, so giving back to the community is a good thing to do.”

As an Ambassador of Distinction (the title designated to donors with three or more gifts of $10,000 to the NADA Foundation), Rusty Eck Ford is eligible to present the $2,000 scholarships to students every year in perpetuity. 

“I feel like I was very lucky in this world to come from a small town like Haven to where I am today,” Eck said. “As you get older you realize that it's your education, basic foundation and values that shape your future and allow you to succeed.”

The NADA Foundation's Ambassadors Program

Today, there are a total of 570 Ambassadors who provide about $250,000 to organizations each year in the public or private sector, supporting a variety of causes from emergency medical services and education to job training for adults with disabilities. This year, 135 Ambassadors will present grants to organizations of their choice. To date, more than $1 million has been donated to organizations across the country through the Ambassadors program.

To become an Ambassador, a dealer, company, association or individual makes a tax-deductible contribution of $10,000 to the NADA Foundation in their name or in recognition of loved ones, living or deceased. Grants of at least $1,500 are made to organizations of their choice every three years in perpetuity.

For more information about the program or to become an Ambassador, contact the NADA Foundation at (703) 821-7102 or  foundation@nada.org.

About the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation

The NADA Foundation, established in 1975, is the philanthropic arm of the National Automobile Dealers Association. Funds contributed by new-car and -truck dealers and friends of the industry provide emergency disaster relief, financial support to colleges and universities and community service programs. For more information about the foundation, visit  www.nada.org.

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