Many Americans are unaware that one in four U.S. high school students fail to graduate in four years.
This is a statistic close to the hearts and minds of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and its Graduate to Go initiative, which continues to invest in America's youth by helping motivate teenagers to stay in school.
As part of the Foundation's "Camp Taco Bell" business leadership program, 90 teenagers from local Boys & Girls Clubs across Southern California teamed up with Taco Bell leadership to compete in the kitchen—developing and marketing new Taco Bell menu items.
The winning team of five teens from the Carson Boys & Girls Club received a combined total of $15,000 in scholarships and grants to fund their futures.
Their "Live Large Burrito" claimed victory in a final "taste-off" held at the Los Angeles Taco Bell restaurant located at 6254 Lexington Ave., where customers voted with their mouths on their favorite teen-created menu item.
"To be able to create something for Taco Bell and see it become a reality—a real product sold in an actual restaurant—is beyond exciting. My team worked very hard and we are honored that Taco Bell selected us as the 'Camp Taco Bell' winner," says 16-year-old Reign Ross-Elliott Rolland, one of the "Camp Taco Bell" scholarship recipients. "To have this real-world experience and to have the support and encouragement from the Taco Bell Foundation is invaluable."
Through its Graduate to Go fundraiser in June, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, with support from participating Taco Bell restaurants nationwide, raised $4.2 million.
The money raised will be used to award grants to more than 350 organizations that support programs designed to inspire teens to graduate high school.
"For 20 years, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has found its purpose in serving America's teens because they are our customers, employees, and family members," says Greg Creed, CEO of Taco Bell. "One of the best ways we can give back to our youth is to help them become caring, educated, and productive adults, and putting a high school diploma in the hands of teenagers puts them on the right path to accomplishing their long-term goals."