$165,000 State Farm donation will fund statewide MU outreach programs

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State Farm Insurance Co. has donated $165,000 to MU to support outreach programs that address firefighter training, driving safety and financial literacy.

The six programs receiving funds benefit both MU students and communities across Missouri.

Ryan Kenney, State Farm’s sales leader for central and northeast Missouri, said the programs implement State Farm’s mission to “help life go right.”

“The programs that we’re recognizing today are doing that for our communities throughout Missouri,” Kenney said. “They’re helping to make them safer, stronger and better educated.”

Breakdown of the donation:

MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute: $60,000. ThinkFirst Missouri: $25,000. Trulaske College of Business and Risk Management and Insurance Program: $25,000. Frank L. Mitchell Jr. MD Trauma Center for Motor Vehicle Crash Outreach Program: $20,000. College of Education Mizzou K-12 Personal Finance Course Development: $20,000. College of Human Environmental Sciences Personal Financial Planning Department: $15,000.

The largest donation went to the Fire and Rescue Training Institute, which provides classes and training on fighting vehicle fires for emergency first responders.

About 70 percent of firefighters nationwide are volunteers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Kevin Zumwalt, director of the Fire and Rescue Training Institute, said this is one reason firefighter training is necessary.

“In the rural areas of the state, there’s the perception of a greater need because those are normally your volunteer fire departments and they don’t have training budgets,” Zumwalt said. “This (donation) helps subsidize that cost to where it’s zero cost for us to go out and do that anywhere in the state.”

The First Impact program, launched in 2016 by ThinkFirst Missouri, partners with law enforcement to help parents of new teen drivers develop successful strategies to keep their teens safe and avoid crashes, according to a news release.

The donation and funding from the state Department of Transportation allows First Impact to provide programming to parents and organizations at no cost, First Impact Director Deana Dothage said.

State Farm also donated $20,000 to the Frank L. Mitchell Jr. MD Trauma Center for Motor Vehicle Crash Outreach Program. This program aims to reduce crashes among older drivers and “open the door for discussion about when it is appropriate to stop driving,” according to the news release.

In 2015, a State Farm donation helped launch Trulaske College of Business’s Risk Management and Insurance Program. This new donation will further support the program.

The College of Education received $20,000 for an online personal finance course designed to help high school students understand financial stability.

State Farm also donated $15,000 to the Department of Personal Financial Planning’s Office for Financial Success. This program works to enhance financial literacy through financial counseling and resources such as student counseling for debt repayment plans and free tax preparation, according to the news release.

Kevin Gamble, public affairs specialist for State Farm, said the programs that received grants have an impact on the state, which is why the company chose MU.

“Some people think of Mizzou as a Columbia institution, but really the programs and the University of Missouri reach across the entire state,” Gamble said. “The range of programs they have and the scope of their impact makes them a really special institution.”

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