May 25, 2012 // Franchising.com // Irvine, CA – 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.**
Additionally, participating Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will host the 4th annual Graduate to Go fundraiser through June 7th 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.
To help bring more awareness to the dropout crisis and support this initiative, Actor/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,” said Mark Wahlberg. “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,” said Mona Dixon. “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.”
Graduate to Go is a national initiative of Taco Bell Foundation, Inc., also known as the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, committed to addressing the growing number of high school dropouts in the U.S. The initiative funds real-world experiences, such as job training and college preparation, proven to motivate teens to stay in school.
Through the Graduate to Go initiative, the Foundation serves more than 100,000 teens and awards more than 350 grants and scholarships each year. Support includes the Graduate to Go Multi-Media Studios, Graduate to Go Business Camp, and National Keystone leadership program at 1,600 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide. For more information about Graduate to Go, visit www.graduatetogo.com, and find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GraduateToGo.
Since 1995, more than $30 million has been donated to support teen programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other teen-serving organizations with the help of on-going customer, franchisee and employee donations.
Taco Bell Corp. ("Taco Bell"), a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, signature quesadillas, Grilled Stuft Burritos, nachos, and other specialty items such as Crunchwrap Supreme®, in addition to the Why Pay More® Value Menu. Taco Bell serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.
Mark Wahlberg and his family established the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation on the belief that no child should be prevented to living up to his or her potential due to financial hardship. The Foundation works to improve the quality of life for teens living in urban communities and distributes funds to support local youth service and enrichment programs nationwide. A life-long member and advocate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Mark comes from a family of nine children with limited means and spent most of his afternoons and evenings at his local club.He credits a large part of his success to the fact that he was fortunate to spend his free time in a postitive and nuturing environment. Visit www.markwahlbergyouthfoundation.com.