Taco Bell announced Wednesday that its launching a “first-of-its-kind” training program to uplift operators from diverse backgrounds. 

The six-week Taco Bell Business School involves restaurant leaders learning the fundamentals of franchise ownership, infused with a “Taco Bell twist,” the company said. Classes will educate operators on entrepreneurial skills, such as financing, growth and development, marketing, and human resources. 

“We know that fast food jobs are often seen as stepping stones to other careers,” CEO Mark King said in a statement. “And we’re trying to change that. Through the Taco Bell Business School, we want to show our ambitious restaurant leaders how their careers could flourish at Taco Bell and see opportunities they may not have previously considered. We want to make foundational changes that positively impact our diverse team members’ growth.This program will teach them skills they need to climb the ladder – whether that’s moving up to the next level or even owning their own franchise one day.”

The chain is also working with existing franchisees to share experiences and inspire future operators. 

When I first started working in a Taco Bell restaurant in 1983, I thought I would only stay for a few months,” Tina Reagan, president and COO of franchise K-Mac Enterprises, said in a statement. “Little did I know, I would end up staying for a few decades and eventually managing and operating 319 restaurants. As someone who started as a team member, I know firsthand that franchise ownership can be an intimidating path. But it’s been very rewarding. I am proud to work for a company that is working to build a path to franchise ownership for restaurant leaders from diverse backgrounds across all levels.”

The first class will start in February. Participants will be recognized internally for their accomplishment, receive scholarships to cover tuition, and access branded swag from the business school. 

The business bootcamp will use existing curriculum from the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, which was formed last year in partnership with the University of Louisville’s College of Business to break down barriers for underrepresented communities wanting to learn more about franchising. 

“I believe that businesses and educational institutions have a responsibility to work ​together to break down barriers and create opportunities for those who wouldn’t otherwise have them,” Kathy Gosser, director of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, said in a statement. “The close working relationship between Yum!, Taco Bell and the University of Louisville demonstrates the power of collaboration. Together we can help people learn new skills, fuel their entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately build a better future for generations.”

Taco Bell listed racial equity as one of its core philosophies entering 2022, including the hiring of Katrina Thornton, the chain’s first-ever chief equity, inclusion, and belonging officer. Additionally, the brand plans to diversity its marketing campaigns this year by increasing minority talent for at least 25 percent of on-screen, voice-over, model, and influencer appearances. The fast-food giant will also use Yum! Brands’ $100 million Unlocking Opportunity initiative to to implement equitable, fair, and inclusive programs inside the company. 

Fast Food, Franchising, Story, Taco Bell