In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Graduate for Más program, The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and Get Schooled, in partnership with actor, author, and Locke alum Tyrese Gibson made a surprise visit to Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy, to reward their commitment to graduate high school.
Locke students were surprised with a special visit from Gibson in a school-wide pep rally. Gibson met with students and spoke about what Locke has meant to him and how graduating from high school gave him the building blocks he needed to get to where he is today in his career. He presented the school with a $25,000 donation in order to provide students with educational resources needed to succeed. The Taco Bell Truck was also on-site, serving more than 1,500 Doritos Locos Tacos and burritos to the students.
“I was thrilled to partner with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and Get Schooled and give back to the students at Locke,” says Gibson, who graduated from Locke in 1996. “The teachers at Locke gave me the tools and inspiration to achieve my dreams, especially my music teacher Reggie Andrews who taught me music, but became a father figure and changed my life. Without their support and dedication, I would not be where I am today. I'm walking inside of answered dreams and prayers everyday and I want to be able to provide that same opportunity for the students of Locke.
Now operated by Green Dot Public Schools, a nonprofit organization, Locke has more than doubled its graduation rate and the number of students enrolling in college has quadrupled. This year, 100 percent of students from the school’s Academy A made the promise to graduate. The school originally missed out on winning a visit from the Taco Bell Truck by a tie-break, but in the spirit of Taco Bell “Live Más,” was issued a second challenge to win. This, along with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and Get Schooled’s one-year anniversary celebrating the nearly two million teens the foundation has enabled and inspired since its inception in 1992, made the perfect sense to pay Locke this special visit.
Graduate for Más is a program dedicated to empowering teens to make a personal commitment to graduate high school and to achieve “más” in their communities. The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens developed the program in partnership with Get Schooled to provide digital tools, support and an online community that high school students need to stay on track. Once registered, teens receive the information and inspiration they need to succeed. By staying active, they can earn points for prizes, rewards and educational support, including scholarships, and mentoring resources in their communities. To date, 120,000 teens have made the promise to graduate.
“Today’s visit will have a long-lasting impact on the students, the school and the community,” says Locke Academy A principal Dr. Peggy Gutierrez. “Our mission is to prepare all students for college, leadership, and life. We are proud of all of our students making the pledge to graduate, and we will do whatever it takes to help them reach that goal. We are so thankful for the visit from the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, Get Schooled and of course, Tyrese Gibson. His donation to Locke is a wonderful example of giving back for all our students to follow.”
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the one-year anniversary for Graduate for Más than with today’s visit to Locke Academy rewarding the students for making the pledge to graduate,” says Lee Mitchell, vice chair of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and local Taco Bell franchisee, who co-sponsored the event. “Together with partners like Get Schooled, and support from celebrities like Tyrese who have a personal investment in this school and the community, we will continue to create a movement to inspire and empower teens to ‘live más,’ graduate from high school and accomplish their dreams.”