ATLANTA, Sept. 13, 2012 // PRNewswire // - The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens today expands its "Graduate to Go Studios" mentorship program with the unveiling of a multi-media Studio at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta's Lawrenceville location. The site is one of four Studios built at Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation, and will include year-round film and music projects, as well as job shadowing opportunities for teens to experience firsthand how their work will apply in the real world.
Nearly one-third of all Georgia students fail to finish high school in four years. In some metro-Atlanta schools, roughly half of students graduate on time.  To address the growing need for mentorship, support and resources for Atlanta teens struggling to graduate, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens in partnership with the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, will provide more than $100,000 in funding this year to support the Studio program at metro Atlanta Clubs.
"Academic achievement is critical to building great futures," said Missy Dugan, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta."'The Graduate to Go Studios' program is interactive, memorable and gives our kids a voice. It allows us to build on the passions and dreams our kids already have and provides them with tools and hands-on experiences they can use in the real world."
During the event, the Vampire Diaries' Steven R. McQueen, Zach Roerig and Michael Trevino, along with music Grammy-nominated producer Kevin "Khao" Cates will share personal stories and experiences as industry professionals and reinforce the importance of helping teens graduate through programs like "Graduate to Go Studios."
"I'm eager to meet and learn from such successful entertainment artists," said Victor Nkwocha, local teen and member of the 'Graduate to Go Studios' program. "To imagine that I could one day be in their shoes is an exciting goal to work toward."
Teens participating in the program will also showcase their video and music projects among the 100 Club members and community leaders attending the celebration.
Local high school students are encouraged to take advantage of the Club's resources, including the new Studio.
In order to be eligible for studio time, teens must maintain strong grades and be enrolled in school. Mentors are also trained to provide necessary support and resources to those teens who are struggling in school.
"We cannot afford to ignore the reality that teens in Atlanta and across the nation are struggling to graduate," said Patrick Mulkey, President of the Atlanta Taco Bell Owners Advertising Association, Inc. and local franchise owner. "With the addition of the 'Graduate to Go Studio' at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, we are further on our way to empowering local teens to create successful futures."
Since 2004, 113 Atlanta area Taco Bell restaurants have donated nearly $900,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. The new Studio at the Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club joins the A. Worley Brown Boys & Girls Club as the second Studio that the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is supporting in the metro Atlanta area. Taco Bell restaurants also provide scholarships and support to Teens through the Atlanta Public Schools and its Tacos for Grads program, which provides incentives to at-risk teens who stay in school.
The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, is 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.
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 $35 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.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta's mission is to save and change the lives of children and teens, especially those who need us most, by providing a safe, positive, and engaging environment and programs that prepare and inspire them to achieve Great Futures. Through 24 Clubs in 10 metro counties, trained and professional staff serve more than 3,800 youth (ages 6-18) daily through programs that foster academic success, healthy lifestyles and character and leadership development. BGCMA also has Camp Kiwanis, a 160-acre outdoor residence camp, and the Youth Art Connection (YAC), a gallery and workspace for young artists. To effectively serve those who need us most, BGCMA asks families to pay annual membership dues of only $35 per child and no child is turned away due to inability to pay. For more information, please visit www.bgcma.org.
 Georgia Department of Education, April 2012
SOURCE Taco Bell Foundation for Teens