The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens’ Graduate to Go initiative is inviting Americans to like, share, or tweet to help at-risk teens graduate high school. In return, Taco Bell will give up to $1 million to Graduate to Go to support teen-serving organizations.
The $1 million gift represents the more than 1 million students that drop out of high school each year.
The Graduate to Go social media effort is part of a two-week campaign including a TV ad with Mark Wahlberg and national fundraiser in participating Taco Bell restaurants. From May 24 to June 7, Taco Bell will donate $5 for each of the following actions taken (maximum total donation $1 million):
“Graduate to Go strives to put a diploma in every teen’s hand, and it’s going to require action from all of us,” says Greg Creed, chief executive officer, Taco Bell. “Taco Bell is providing simple ways to make a big difference both in our restaurants and online, and our hope is that we can inspire the nation to mobilize around this important cause.”
The high school dropout rates are staggering in America, with one student dropping out of high school every 26 seconds. More than 30 percent of teens in the U.S. and up to 50 percent of Latinos and African Americans fail to graduate with their class. Dropouts are more likely than high school graduates to be unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty, in prison, or on public assistance.*
Raising Funds with Taco Bell Restaurants
Additionally, participating Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will host the fourth annual Graduate to Go fundraiser through June 7 to encourage customers to donate $1 to fund teen programs. As thanks for customer support, participating restaurants will give contributors a taco coupon.
The success of the 2011 national fundraiser enabled the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to distribute 350 grants totaling $3 million to Boys & Girls Clubs and other organizations that inspire teens to graduate high school.
Raising Awareness with Mark Wahlberg
To help bring more awareness to the dropout crisis and support this initiative, actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, the Graduate to Go ambassador for the third consecutive year, will appear in a national TV spot to encourage support. The ad features Boys & Girls Club Alumni Mona Dixon, who was helped by Graduate to Go through her involvement with the Club.
Wahlberg also continues to support teens through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.
“Each time I talk to a teen like Mona Dixon who has been helped by Graduate to Go, I am reminded of the reasons why I’ve partnered with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens,” Wahlberg says. “Participating in this campaign with Mona inspired me, and I hope it will inspire others to help teens like her achieve greatness against all odds.”
In the TV spot titled “Imagine,” Mark Wahlberg tells Mona Dixon’s story of being homeless through her high school years and reveals how Graduate to Go helped her get where she is today–a successful college student with a 3.93 GPA. The ad closes with a call-to-action, encouraging consumers to give $1 at participating Taco Bell restaurants.
“Life hasn’t been easy for me and I’m sure there are more teens just like me out there,” Dixon says. “I’m so thankful to have had the support of so many and hope my story lets other teens know that there is a way to overcome the barriers you face.”
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