What can we expect throughout 2023?
I think as we look to continue this year, we want to make sure we carry the momentum forward with our scholarship program and education initiatives overall. We want to ensure we’re there to support operators and team members as best as possible. It’s life changing. It’s transformative. For the last few years, we’ve had a surprise element and awarded the True Inspiration Scholarship recipients here at the support center. And we decided to go back to the restaurant this year. I was able to attend one of them and it really is just, the emotions that were running through the restaurant that day, from the recipient to the recipient’s family to their team members to the operator, really spoke to how transformative this scholarship is.
Most of these individuals, when we chat with them, you realize that education might not be in their future if it were not for this scholarship opportunity. That speaks to how important our program is and how rich it is for the recipients and for those who apply.
How does this reflect on Chick-fil-A’s DNA as a company?
One thing we’ve been pretty intentional with is how do we continue to build our national employer brand? And one element is the idea of ‘many paths to potential.’ We know that this is a big hallmark of that. Our scholarship program enables opportunities for our team members to pursue the many paths of potential they may want to explore, whether it’s inside a restaurant or outside a restaurant. It’s exciting that this program is able to help enrich these individuals and help them pursue their dreams.
I think about when I was there. Those individuals who received a True Inspiration Scholarship, they’re celebrities in their town for that day. You have the cameras around. The customers in the restaurant are celebrating as well. It’s truly a big honor and hallmark for them in their lives that they’ll never forget.
How has it all come full circle?
I think about what’s happened over the past 50 years. We want to make sure we continue to evolve. One, from a funding standpoint—make sure we have sufficient funds so we continue to support the growth of our team members. The number of team members who are growing, both domestically and internationally, we want to make sure we have the relevant measures in place and want to ensure we’re constantly reimagining what things can look like. This year, coming in, we said, ‘what is something special we can do?’ And that thing we could do was celebrate the 50 years with the one-time Eddie White Servant Leadership Scholarship.
We’ll continue to look for those opportunities and mine them in a way that’s organic in nature, from both the team members and listening to operators as well. And find out what’s best to do going forward.
What makes Chick-fil-A’s efforts on this front unique?
We’ve always wanted to make sure we could serve all our team members as best as possible and make sure we have the correct eligibility requirements. You can be part time, you can be full time, there are no tenure requirements. And I think that’s something that’s very special with our program.
Any post-graduate, secondary, undergraduate education, graduate school. Of those over 13,000 scholarship recipients, we have some who are in grad school, some in post grad, some in undergrad. They can be used for any credited university.
It’s been truly an honor getting to be a part of it. It was breathtaking that whole week. We travelled everywhere from Arizona to New Jersey awarding 13 people in-restaurant and just seeing the array of emotions, I’m so thankful and honored to have this opportunity to be able to lead a team who is able to do this.
It’s a reminder of why I work at Chick-fil-A. It’s a reminder of what we do at Chick-fil-A. And it’s just energizing. There are so many people who reached out this week, who saw snippets of the videos and said, ‘this reminds me of why I work at Chick-fil-A.’ And that’s heartwarming.