State Farm Neighborhood Assist ® 2018

Driver Education for At-Risk Youth

To promote change to eliminate preventable injuries, death and loss in the communities we serve.

Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in SC today; surpassing suicide and drug overdose combined! According to the 2015 Crash Statistics Clock, one SC teen driver is involved in a fatal or injury collision every 1.3 hours! SC teens are not receiving the quality education they need to make good decisions behind the wheel. The crisis intensified when the state eliminated drivers education in our high schools due to expense. In its place, the state mandates each teen enroll in a private driving school to receive their license, often charging more than $325. This is a financial barrier too high for thousands of teens in the Midlands who must either forgo the privilege of driving until they reach adulthood or be forced to drive illegally because of family obligations.

The SCNSC's Driver Academy will partner with Epworth Children's Home, the Alston Wilkes Society and the SC Department of Social Services to identify orphaned or at risk-youth to provide free driver training.

The South Carolina DMV requires that teens under the age of 17 complete Driver's Ed before applying for a driver's license. Unfortunately, free drivers education (previously offered in all public high schools) was eliminated resulting in every student having to pay a private company on average $325 before being given the "right" to drive. This is not fair to those teens who have no parents or families (local orphanages) and those who are without means. A $25,000 grant from State Farm would allow us to provide over 100 at-risk students FREE drivers training through our SCDMV approved nonprofit driving academy. Funding goes towards instructor fees, all of which are South Carolina off-duty police officers. In addition to identifying students in need, our program partners will provide access to free reliable vehicles, so students can pursue good-paying jobs which require reliable transportation (and a driver's license).

In 2015, South Carolina had the highest fatality rate in the nation for miles traveled, a staggering 53% higher than the national average! This is unacceptable. Believing that one life lost is one too many, our at-risk youth drivers education program will have a lasting impact on the Midlands community by saving lives and ensuring the poorest among us have the same opportunities to thrive. No teenager should be denied life-saving training because they are without means. Support from State Farm will have a life-long impact on the lives of these teenagers and will support State Farm's mission to help all people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams.