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Twenty Years of Scholarships: How SONIC Drive-In’s Nashville Franchisees Support Their Team

By Raj Prashad

For more than 20 years, SONIC Drive-In franchisees in the Nashville, Tennessee, area have remained dedicated to supporting their team members as they pursue a college education.

It all started in the late 90’s, when Robert Newberry, the drive-in manager in Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the West and West Group, came up with the idea of awarding 10 team members college scholarships. Since then, that number has ballooned to 50 scholarships awarded each year from the Nashville Co-op of SONIC Drive-In franchisees.

These scholarships have supported team members like Brook Blackmore and Britney Dyer, twin sisters who started working at the Hendersonville, Tennessee, SONIC as high school students in the early 2000’s.

“In the decade we worked at SONIC, we learned true life skills — to be goal-driven, promote a positive culture in a fast-paced environment and how to effectively run a team. SONIC pushed us toward success and we are grateful for our achievements,” said Blackmore and Dyer.

To qualify for the scholarship, Blackmore and Dyer acquired recommendations from their drive-in manager, teachers and community leaders. They also wrote essays detailing why they deserved the scholarships. And like so many other SONIC team members over the years, the scholarships helped reduce their financial burden of college and allowed them to achieve university degrees.

The sisters later went on to earn careers at Sarah Cannon, the oncology service line for HCA Healthcare, assisting oncology patients to ensure they receive world-class cancer care.

“My sister and I are both grateful for the opportunity to work for a corporation that supported college education, as it helped us “Drive-In” to a successful future,” said Blackmore and Dyer.

Today, with the support of Nashville Co-Op President Paul Raynor, franchisee David Watson, who hosts a yearly golf tournament that doubles as a fundraiser and an opportunity to recognize team members who win scholarships, and Bethany West, who prepares the scholarship paperwork, SONIC continues to invest in the future of its team members.

“We have had several employees over the years receive the scholarship more than once as they continue to work at SONIC while going to college,” Raynor said. “Along with employee retention, it has encouraged younger siblings of the scholarship winners to also work at SONIC in hopes they will be awarded.”

To learn about career opportunities at SONIC, go to