KARL Chevrolet has launched its 27th annual high school scholarship promotion this month, pledging to contribute $50 to area scholarship programs this spring in the name of each individual or business purchasing or leasing a new or certified pre-owned vehicle from April 1 through 30.

Since 1986, KARL Chevrolet's scholarship drives have raised nearly $90,000 for area high school graduates for their continuing education, including more than $32,000 for the New Canaan High School Scholarship Foundation.

"We feel it's important to be actively involved in the communities that support us. The Scholarship Drive has become a signature event for us over the past 26 years, and we're delighted that we are able to make a significant contribution to help area students again this year," Leo Karl said. "We believe our customers are gratified to know that their purchase has helped our graduates further their education."

"Like many people, when I first came to New Canaan I assumed there was no financial hardship, that everyone was financially stable," said Dr. Bryan Luizzi, principal of New Canaan High School and chairman of this community's scholarship foundation. "As I have gotten to know the New Canaan community, however, I've learned that just like everywhere else, sometimes people need assistance. What sets New Canaan apart is how the community responds to help one another.

"The New Canaan Scholarship Foundation, with the long standing dedication and commitment of community minded contributors such as Karl Chevrolet, is one of the most significant ways New Canaan helps its young adults continue their education after high school.

"With rising tuition costs, last year over 75 students received financial aid awards ranging from $500 to $10,000. Many of these students could not have gone to school without the help of Karl Chevrolet and other generous members of the community. In these challenging times, the contributions of Karl Chevrolet gives many students the added assistance they need to fulfill their dreams. We at NCHS are truly grateful to the Karl family for their kindness and consideration. Their generosity makes a difference."

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Annette Terry, co-chairman of the NCHS scholarship foundation's finance committee with Lisa Isherwood and Liz Mallozzi, said the scholarship fund is an invaluable community resource that helps bridge the gap for students with documented need.

"We appreciate KARL Chevrolet's commitment to the New Canaan High School Scholarship Foundation. Every year there is an increase in the number of students that apply for financial assistance," Terry said. "With continued support from the community many deserving graduates will be able to further their education. Donations of any size will help us make a difference."

Last year, the New Canaan High School Foundation awarded grants to 78 of the 85 students who applied for aid. Grants ranged from $500 to $10,000, with an average award of $3,214. The foundation awarded $250,750 in total aid for the 2011-2012 academic year. The New Canaan High School scholarship foundation relies on contributions from businesses and civic organizations, loan repayments, and support from the annual town-wide mailing and student drive.

The New Canaan High School scholarship foundation awards are made annually to students enrolled in a variety of four-year, two-year and technical programs and decisions are based solely on financial need. The identity of each student is anonymous throughout the decision-making process. First and second year awards are a 100 percent grant. In succeeding years, the student receives a percentage of the award as an interest-free loan, which is repaid during the five years following graduation. For application forms, students should contact the high school guidance office. For information visit www.nchsscholarship.org.

Schools participating in the KARL scholarship program -- New Canaan, Darien, Stamford, Westhill, Norwalk, Brien McMahon and Greenwich High Schools -- are asked to use a student's commitment to and involvement in both school and community volunteer activities as a factor for awarding the scholarships, Karl said. This criterion matches the Karl family's own commitment to community service. All scholarships are administered by the local schools.