Not everyone knows where to begin when they have a game-changing idea, whether it’s to address a local community struggle or uproot a systemic issue. Former Taco Bell team member and Chief Impact Officer Lil Nas X knows better than most what it takes to change the norm, push the boundaries of culture and kickstart new ideas. So, he’s supporting Taco Bell, the Taco Bell Foundation and Ashoka in launching the Ambition Accelerator, a new program specifically designed to help young people seeking to make change in their communities and around the world.

“For the past 60 years, we’ve not only focused on craveable and accessible food, but strived to enact change and drive creativity in our team members and our fans,” says Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell and vice chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation Board of Directors. “The Ambition Accelerator is yet another way that we’re celebrating innovative thinking with accessibility at the core, and I’m excited to hear the bold ideas of our next generation.”

Anyone from the U.S. and all U.S. territories aged 16 to 26 are now able to submit ideas for how to tackle society’s most pressing issues—whether it’s addressing climate change, advocating for social justice, building a more equitable and inclusive society or solving for other critical issues in their communities. This is a chance to receive mentorship and feedback on their projects, grow their changemaking abilities and potentially win up to $25,000 in funding, plus a trip to Taco Bell’s headquarters to pitch their ideas. Both Taco Bell fans and team members are encouraged to participate in the program, following suit with the brand’s vision of championing ideas from its people and consumers.

Since its inception 60 years ago, Taco Bell has embraced cultural trends, broken conventions and kick-started movements. Now more than ever, there are global challenges that require not only solutions, but for inspired young people to be equipped with skills and mindsets to tackle these issues. Taco Bell and the Taco Bell Foundation are partnering with Ashoka, the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs, to provide an opportunity for young people to access the resources they need, fuel the ambitions of young leaders and inspire a society that recognizes that the power to shape the future belongs to all of us.

“We have been lucky enough to experience and foster the spectacular ingenuity of young people for decades,” said Jennifer Bradbury, Executive Director of the Taco Bell Foundation. “They are changing the world right in front of us, and we have the ability and responsibility to help amplify their efforts, while also learning from them.”

The Taco Bell Foundation acknowledges that young people who identify as changemakers, or people with ideas to change the world, often face significant challenges in making their ambitions a reality, especially for Black, LatinX, LGBTQ+, women and other underrepresented groups. The Ambition Accelerator will focus on the challenges that currently impact people of diverse backgrounds, working towards the equitable access that young innovators need to lead society into a better future for all.

“Our goal is to inspire a society that recognizes the power that every individual has to identify problems and take action,” says Tia Johnston Brown, Executive Director of Ashoka Youth Years U.S.

Funded by Yum! Brands’ Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, this program is open to both the community and Taco Bell team members so they can develop solutions to issues they are passionate about.

“This is a program for the dreamers and disruptors,” adds Lil Nas X, Chief Impact Officer of Taco Bell. “Be delusional and chase your dreams, and find the right support you need along the way, which just might be from Taco Bell.”

Applications are being accepted on from May 3 through July 21, 2022, with applicants encouraged to apply as a team, as only teams will be eligible for a chance to attend the Taco Bell headquarters summit and to win the grand prize. Ideas will be evaluated on criteria that includes creativity, commitment and connection to the issues they are tackling. All applicants will receive feedback on their ideas, will be invited to virtual learning sessions to deepen their changemaking knowledge and will connect with like-minded peers.

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