The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, in partnership with Get Schooled, announced the launch of Graduate for Mas, a program challenging teens to make a personal commitment to graduate high school.
Actor and philanthropist Mark Wahlberg, who did not finish high school himself, also announced his support of the program.
"I grew up without the support and resources I needed to stay motivated, so graduation was the last thing on my mind," Wahlberg says. "Today, I see students across the country struggling under the same circumstances, and I know I'm in a position to help. That's why I'm demonstrating my personal commitment to education by earning my high school diploma."
Wahlberg and his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation recently joined the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, Get Schooled, and MTV News executive producer Sway to celebrate students at T.C. Williams High School, outside of Washington, D.C., for being the largest study body in the country to make the promise to graduate high school through the Graduate for Mas program.
He then joined Taco Bell leadership on a tour of Capitol Hill, meeting with the White House, select members of Congress, and key policymakers to discuss the need to inspire and enable teens to achieve more, starting with high school graduation.
Graduate for Mas is an online program dedicated to empowering teens to make a personal promise to graduate high school and to achieve "mas" 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 can earn points for prizes, rewards, and educational support, including scholarships and local mentoring resources. In celebration of the program's launch, teens who promise to graduate will earn a coupon for a free crunchy taco at participating Taco Bell restaurants.
"Simply put, we believe in teens and are actively working on their behalf to identify ways to help them reach their full potential," says Greg Creed , Taco Bell CEO and co-chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. "The Graduate for Mas program ensures that today's teens become tomorrow's leaders, and its success requires the support of communities, business leaders, elected officials, and like-minded organizations, like Mark and his own Youth Foundation."
Wahlberg demonstrated his continued support, sharing a message on Twitter and Facebook announcing his support of Graduate for Mas and encouraging teens to make the promise to graduate high school.
The actor/producer returned to high school last year by enrolling in an online diploma program based in Massachusetts.
Wahlberg's involvement includes engaging other celebrities and peers, as well as leveraging pop culture events to deliver Graduate for Mas information that inspires teens in their educational pursuits.
"As the premiere education brand for young people, we are thrilled to partner with the Taco Bell Foundation to create the Graduate for Mas program," says Marie Groark, executive director of Get Schooled Foundation. "Together, we are making significant progress on keeping students in school through creative digital programs and social technology that engage teens."