Industry News | April 9, 2011

Taco Bell, Mark Wahlberg Help Teens Stay in School

The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens announced its "Graduate To Go" fundraiser will be held April 7-21 at participating Taco Bell restaurants nationwide. During this time, customers can donate to the graduation cause, and Taco Bell restaurants have committed to match customer contributions up to $1 million, nationwide.  

The success of the 2010 national fundraiser enabled the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to grant $2.2 million to Boys & Girls Clubs and other partner organizations that inspire teens to graduate high school. This year, the foundation aspires to surpass this goal to reach even more teens.

"We are thrilled to announce our annual 'Graduate To Go' fundraiser and the continued support of Mark Wahlberg as our 'Graduate To Go' ambassador," says Bob Fulmer, executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. "These funds will play an integral role in supporting a number of experiential teen programs proven to help teens stay in school."  

Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg serves as the "Graduate To G"o ambassador for the second consecutive year, joining the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to promote the importance of staying in school and securing a diploma. Wahlberg will appear in an April national campaign to raise awareness and encourage support of the fundraiser. He also supports teen programs through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.  

"This cause is close to my heart, and I am proud to be a partner of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens," Wahlberg says. "The real-world experiences, scholarships, and grants this fundraiser makes possible are life-changing for these teens, and the generous donations are truly helping to make a difference in America's drop-out crisis."

Throughout the fundraiser, customers are encouraged to donate $1 to help teens graduate. As thanks for their support, participating restaurants will give contributors a taco coupon. During the fundraiser period, customers can also donate online at www.graduatetogo.com.  The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens will also thank online donors with a taco coupon during the fundraiser period.  

"Graduate To Go" is a long-term effort to raise awareness of the high-school dropout crisis and encourage teens to get their diplomas. The initiative funds real-world experiences, such as job training and college preparation, proven to motivate teens to stay in school. Through the "Graduate to Go" initiative, the foundation funded college and business camps in more than 10 markets last year and awarded more than 350 grants and scholarships to serve teens.

"Taco Bell has given me a life-changing experience," says 17-year-old Karen Batani, a Boys & Girls Club of Wesminster member, who attended the "Graduate To Go" Business Camp and earned $30,000 in "Graduate to Go" educational scholarships. "It feels incredible to no longer have to worry about money for college. I want to ensure that I give back, since the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has given so much to me."