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Sears, Craftsman and the National Hot Rod Association form a close partnership. Sears owns Craftsman, which is the Sears hardware brand, and Craftsman serves as an NHRA sponsor, providing the "official tools" for the association. Starting in 2000, this alliance extended to philanthropic endeavors in the form of the Sears Craftsman NHRA Scholarship, an award meant to promote continued automotive education. The scholarship was terminated in 2005, and as of March 2011, Sears-Craftsman does not offer any scholarships.
The Sears Craftsman NHRA Scholarship was a merit-based award for students pursuing higher education and planning for careers in the areas of automotive technology, industrial technology, manufacturing or marketing. The NHRA Youth and Education Services Department administered the scholarship program, while Sears-Craftsman provided the funding. Sears-Craftsman and the NHRA began offering this scholarship in 2000, and they ended the program in 2005.
According to the National Hot Rod Association, the Sears Craftsman NHRA Scholarship promoted continuing education by recognizing the achievements of accomplished high school seniors. Although the focus was on higher education, the program's sponsoring companies also sought to advance the automotive industry via the further education of its future employees. This scholarship program stressed the importance of education across all races, creeds, ethnic origins and personal beliefs.
During each year of the scholarship's existence, the award went to 21 graduating high school seniors – three in each of the NHRA's seven geographic divisions. Twenty students received amounts of $1,000, while one student received funds up to $25,000 for continued education. Some scholarship recipients received the larger award at a special presentation. For instance, 2004 winner Andrew Elskamp was recognized at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals drag race.
The Sears Craftsman NHRA Scholarship catered exclusively to graduating high school seniors in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Recipients had to have at least a 2.0 grade point average. The award went to students planning to attend an accredited two- or four-year college, university, technical program or vocational program. The NHRA Youth and Education Services Department evaluated potential recipients on the basis of academic achievements, character, leadership, extracurricular participation and community service. Applicants were required to submit an application form, recommendations, transcripts and a personal essay.
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