The Taco Bell Foundation announced Tuesday that it is awarding $4,625,000 in Live Más Scholarships in 2019 ranging from $5,000-$25,000 each. There are 531 winners in total, including 176 young fans of the brand, 96 Taco Bell Restaurant employees and 259 renewal winners (those who have won Live Más Scholarships in the past and applied for a renewal). More than the Taco Bell Foundation has ever awarded in a single year, this year's scholarship award brings the Taco Bell Foundation to more than $10.7 million in total scholarships, halfway to its commitment to award $21 million in scholarships by 2021.
"At Taco Bell, we infuse innovation and passion into everything we do, and the Taco Bell Foundation has the same spirit," says Frank Tucker, chief people officer of Taco Bell Corp. and Chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation Board of Directors. "We are thrilled that the Taco Bell Foundation is able to inspire more Taco Bell restaurant employees and young fans of the brand to follow their dreams—whatever they may be."
The scholarship program has continued to grow year after year. The $4.6 million in funding for students' passions in 2019 is $1.6 million more than what was awarded in 2018, and represents more than a $3.5 million increase from its first year. This year's amplified funding mirrors growing interest in the scholarship, which attracted nearly 13,000 applications, up from 8,000 in 2018.
"The overwhelming interest in our scholarship tells us that, now more than ever, there is a need for financial aid and support for passionate students," says Jennifer Bradbury, Director of the Taco Bell Foundation. "We are proud to play our part in easing the burden of college expenses, while encouraging nontraditional students to achieve their goals and turn their dreams into reality."
To raise money for the scholarship fund, the Taco Bell Foundation partners with Taco Bell restaurants on National Fundraisers twice a year. This year, from May 9-23 in participating restaurants, customers can donate in-restaurant through the new Round Up program, by "rounding up" their order total to the nearest dollar at checkout, turning that $1.29 Bean Burrito (plus tax) into a $2 payment, where the spare change becomes a meal that feeds them and the educational dreams of passionate innovators and creators. Customers in the drive-thru who want to participate may donate $1 towards the National Fundraiser. Customers who support the National Fundraiser will even receive a coupon for a free seasoned beef Crunchy Taco or medium soda for their donation to use during a future visit at participating locations*. Round Up has already raised $4.5 million to support future scholars since its launch in January 2019.
More than just a check, the Live Más Scholarship connects winners to real-world experiences where they can practice their craft outside the classroom. Programs like the Taco Bell Foundation's Summer Workshops give scholars the opportunity to network with a dynamic community of like-minded peers and professionals to develop personal and professional skills. From June-August 2019, the workshops, in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership will take place in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco.
The Taco Bell restaurant employee Live Más Scholarship dovetails with Taco Bell's Start with Us, Stay with Us platform. Restaurant employees are encouraged to participate in the available leadership development and education programs no matter how long they've been with, or plan to stay with, the brand. Taco Bell partners with Guild Education to provide restaurant team members with personalized education coaches and tuition discounts. Combined with the Live Más Scholarship, these programs provide opportunities for thousands of restaurant employees to reach their education and career goals.