The new Hagerty Drivers Foundation champions car culture, education, and innovation
After nearly two decades of helping to shape the future of car culture through its philanthropic efforts, Hagerty has announced the creation of an overarching nonprofit organization called the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. The foundation provides scholarships for students in the automotive field of education, offers financial support for automotive startups and grants for innovative business ideas, and continues to build the National Historic Vehicle Register, which documents the invaluable history of our automotive past.
“We’re not going to be able to just hope that the car world works and perseveres long into the future. We need a plan, and we need concentrated efforts to make it happen,” says Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty. “That’s what the Drivers Foundation is all about. It’s about bringing our best thinking together, bringing the resources of Hagerty and all of the efforts of our members together to create programs that really matter for the future of the automotive world.”
Hagerty’s determined charitable focus was sparked by longtime car collector and comedian Jay Leno, who while accepting an automotive award in 1997 challenged members of the collector car community to be more forward-thinking and boldly supportive of future generations of historic vehicle enthusiasts. McKeel Hagerty was in the audience and took Leno’s words to heart.
In 2003, Hagerty started the Hagerty Fund—which grew into the larger Collectors Foundation and later became the Hagerty Education Program—and began awarding scholarships to students studying automotive restoration and preservation. In 2016, that program was renamed the RPM Foundation and transitioned to one of four organizations under America’s Automotive Trust. Although the RPM (Restoration, Preservation, and Mentorship) Foundation is not under the Hagerty Drivers Foundation umbrella, it is eligible to apply to the HDF for funding.
Hagerty founded the Historic Vehicle Association in 2009 to ensure that America’s automotive heritage would never be lost or forgotten. Five years later, the HVA—in partnership with the U.S. Department of Interior and the Library of Congress—helped launch to the National Historic Vehicle Register to record and protect America’s automotive past in perpetuity. So far, 29 vehicles are on the register. The newest addition, the DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future, was announced today. In addition to the NHVR, in 2010 the HVA became the first (and remains the only) North American representative of the Fédération International des Véhicules Anciens, better known as FIVA.
The HVA, its staff, and its efforts to preserve history will continue through the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. The HDF team is led by Jonathan Klinger, vice president of car culture for Hagerty and executive director of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation; Diane Parker, vice president of the HDF; Erin Kleinbohl, executive assistant; Casey Maxon, senior manager of heritage; Preston Rose, automotive heritage assistant; and Nick Williams, media coordinator.
Hagerty has now donated $20 million to preserve and promote historic vehicles through its various organizations, and it will continue to answer the call through the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. “Together,” McKeel Hagerty says, “we can save driving and car culture for future generations.”