Taco Bell Foundation awards $17 million towards grants, scholarships nationwide
As part of its yearly commitments, the Foundation distributed scholarships to over 700 students and grants to nearly 400 organizations focused on youth education and career readiness.
The Taco Bell Foundation is continuing its focused commitment to breaking down barriers to education, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.
Earlier this month, the Foundation announced it is awarding a total of $17 million in funds that will go towards those very efforts.
This year, the Foundation will award $7 million in Live Más Scholarships and distribute it to 725 recipients — 270 fans of the brand, 150 Taco Bell Restaurant team members, and 305 scholarship renewal winners. The scholarship awards range from $5,000 to $25,000 per student.
The Live Más Scholarship is awarded to recipients based on their passions, rather than academic merit or athletic ability.
“After a tough year of remote learning, we hope these scholarships help inspire young people around the country to continue pursuing their boldest ambitions,” said Jennifer Bradbury, executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation, in the announcement.
In addition to the scholarship disbursement, an additional $10 million will also be going to nearly 400 youth-serving organizations nationwide.
In the Philadelphia area, well over $100,000 will be distributed to local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County, Inc., Pennsylvania College Advising Corps, City Year Philadelphia and A Step 2 Success.
Summerwood Corporation, a franchisee of the Taco Bell Foundation, has been a beneficiary of the Taco Bell Foundation’s contributions for several years.
Kathy Mullane, chief people officer for Summerwood Corporation, noted how those contributions have made her organization increase their commitment to helping others apply for scholarships, as six employees won a total of $78,000 last year.
To apply, it is required to submit a two-minute video describing what their unique passion is, and how they can use that passion to make a difference in the world. With that in mind, the organization’s past winners hosted a workshop through Zoom that helped guide the next applicants.
“We had 18 people win this year, and it totaled $180,000. We really more than doubled what we received last year,” Mullane told AL DÍA.
In the Philadelphia area alone, more than $335,000 in scholarships are being distributed by the Taco Bell Foundation.
Beyond the scholarship money, Mullane credited the significance the grant funds could have towards the organizations and students who are a part of them, especially after having to endure a year of remote learning.
“What it does is, it helps them [the organizations] help those students that were having difficulties with remote learning,” said Mullane. “It’s an added resource… beyond just the Zoom learning.”
“I think that becomes important because not everyone can learn that way. Not everyone can learn remotely… [or] in a Zoom atmosphere,” she added.
With the additional funds, many of these organizations can spend money towards providing further help to the students who need it most.
Since the Live Más Scholarship was created in 2016, the Taco Bell Foundation has awarded a total of $21 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 students nationwide.
"We are so excited to have met the commitment we set for ourselves... and look forward to supporting students on their educational journeys in even more innovative ways in the future," said Bradbury.
Later this summer, the Taco Bell Foundation will be hosting a virtual “Summer of Connection” conference with current and past scholars, with the goal of providing networking opportunities and developing personal and professional skills that will help them as they advance throughout their educational and professional careers.
In 2019, Summerwood Corp. was one of the many organizations that participated in the Philadelphia workshops for local scholarship recipients. The organization’s participation involved serving the food and intermingling with the students, allowing the students the opportunity to talk to managers, executives and professionals in various fields of work.
“We have always been a proponent… it’s really something we believe in,” said Mullane.
These opportunities can be life-changing for many, and that is what drives the efforts.