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The Winners' Circle: Mercedes-Benz Drive Your Future Scholarship Program Turns Dreams into Reality for First-Generation College-Bound Students; 150 Students Across The Nation To Receive $1.5 Million In Scholarships.

MONTVALE, N.J. -- Sometimes all it takes is a helping hand to make great things happen. In announcing the recipients of the 2006 DRIVE YOUR FUTURE Scholarship Program, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) aims to help first generation college-bound students achieve their academic goals and become part of the next generation of business, community and global leaders.

Additionally, this year MBUSA launched the DRIVE YOUR FUTURE Performance Awards, an extension of the national scholarship program, through which 50 scholarships will be awarded to students who plan to pursue degrees in music, theater, dance or film.

Overall, Mercedes-Benz with support from its dealers nationwide, will provide $1.5 million in scholarship funding to 150 students. Each student will receive a $10,000 award -- $2,500 per year for four years. Selected from an applicant pool of over 8,000 students, this year's award recipients were chosen for their exceptional achievement in the areas of academic performance, leadership and school and community activities. All of the DRIVE YOUR FUTURE award recipients are the first generation in their families to pursue a college education.

"DRIVE YOUR FUTURE celebrates the successes of these students who will one day become leaders in business, engineering, technology and the arts," said Paul Halata, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. "Their dedication to excellence, hard work and an anything-is-possible mindset is truly impressive. Going to college is an extraordinary achievement for any young person, but rising tuition costs have made higher education more and more difficult to afford. Mercedes-Benz congratulates the 150 students that were selected for the 2006 DRIVE YOUR FUTURE scholarship and we salute their accomplishment as the first generation in their families to attend college."

"Every opportunity is important to me and this scholarship is valuable and essential towards my college education," said Dongling An, 2006 DRIVE YOUR FUTURE recipient. "As the first generation in my family to attend college, they are putting all their faith in me. They are all counting on me to graduate from college."

"According to recent research, more than 70 percent of students said that student loans were very or extremely important in allowing them access to education after high school," said Barb Weber, assistant vice president of Scholarship America. "The importance of scholarship programs, such as DRIVE YOUR FUTURE, is imperative in helping all students move forward with college enrollment."

Now in its third year, the DRIVE YOUR FUTURE program was developed to respond to a critical need for scholarships to help students offset the costs of postsecondary education. Administered by Scholarship America, DRIVE YOUR FUTURE is part of MBUSA's broader philanthropic initiative aimed at educating and empowering future generations by helping young people reach their full potential and become the leaders of their generation. Through support from MBUSA and the fundraising activities of Mercedes-Benz dealers nationwide, DRIVE YOUR FUTURE scholarship awards have tripled since 2004.

In order to grow the "pay it forward" concept, scholarship recipients are asked to serve as "ambassadors of Mercedes-Benz USA philanthropy" by giving back to their communities through activities such as mentoring/tutoring younger students, working with Boys and Girls Clubs or Big Brothers Big Sisters, among other activities. To date, over 800 students will benefit from DRIVE YOUR FUTURE and will, in turn, give back in some way to help someone else achieve his/her dreams.

As part of the 2006 program, the DRIVE YOUR FUTURE Performance Awards will establish scholarships for those majoring in music, theater/drama, dance and film. These 50 awards will be funded through sales of 750 Premier Edition GL-Class vehicles, now available at Mercedes-Benz dealerships nationwide. Furthering its commitment to education, MBUSA will donate an additional $1 million to the Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Arts and Music Education Initiative (NAMEI), also through Premier Edition GL-Class vehicle sales. EIF's NAMEI was developed to help reverse declining public resources available for arts education.

Committed to the communities in which employees live and work, MBUSA has also built alliances with a number of youth organizations across the country. The company supports many of these efforts through employee volunteer activities, mentoring and community outreach efforts. Philanthropic initiatives are reviewed and implemented through MBUSA corporate headquarters in Montvale, N.J., and through its six regional offices around the country. For more information, interested students may visit

Mercedes-Benz USA

In 2005, MBUSA achieved its twelfth consecutive year of sales growth by setting the highest sales volume in its history with 224,421 new vehicle sales. Headquartered in Montvale, N.J., MBUSA is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found on the Internet at

Scholarship America

Scholarship America is a national nonprofit organization that expands access to educational opportunities by involving and assisting the private sector in the support of students and the encouragement of educational achievement. More information is available at

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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 30, 2006
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