NBA Players Help Outstanding High School Students Win $55,000 in Total Scholarships During the Taco Bell Skills Challenge
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NBA Players Help Outstanding High School Students Win $55,000 in Total Scholarships During the Taco Bell Skills Challenge

IRVINE, Calif. - Feb. 19, 2013 // PRNewswire // - Six teens were awarded a combined total of $55,000 in scholarships from the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens on Saturday as part of the 11th annual TACO BELL® Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star 2013 in Houston, TX. The Foundation partnered with NBA Cares and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston to pair six outstanding teens with NBA players who competed in the challenge to win educational scholarships for teens ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

"As a company, we believe in 'living mas' – and that means doing more, expecting more and, most importantly, giving more," said Greg Creed , chief executive officer, Taco Bell. "The annual TACO BELL® Skills Challenge is a fun way to bring this mantra to life while raising awareness of the importance of high school graduation on a national scale."

This year's Skills Challenge champion was NBA guard Damian Lillard , who completed the course in 29.8 seconds in order to award Poppie Simmons from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston with a $25,000 scholarship to fund his future.

"It's exciting to win for someone as deserving as Poppie," said Lillard. "He is the real all-star for demonstrating the commitment to graduating from high school and continuing on to college. I was glad to be able to participate in this event for him."

Poppie is a graduating senior at Ball High School, where he is an honor roll student and basketball athlete. In addition to his accolades in the classroom and on the court, he has demonstrated leadership in his Galveston Boys & Girls Club and community, where he has completed almost 350 hours of community service. Poppie resides in Sandpiper Cove, a community known for its criminal activity; however, Poppie has been an inspiration to his younger brothers and fellow Club members. His greatest wish is to be the first in his family to graduate high school and continue to be a positive role model who makes a difference for his family and community.

"Being a part of NBA All-Star was an incredible experience, and I'm honored to accept a $25,000 scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation," said 17-year-old Simmons. "With the support and encouragement from the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, I'm excited to continue my education and pursue my dreams."

The second place teen, Bijana Williams from Houston, TX, won $10,000 to fund her future. The four remaining teens each won a $5,000 scholarship from the Foundation. This is the third year the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has offered teens an NBA All-Star experience at the TACO BELL® Skills Challenge, awarding over $150,000 in total scholarships during the past events. Each TACO BELL® Skills Challenge player was paired with a Boys & Girls Club Teen who is part of Taco Bell's "Graduate for Mas™", a national program that provides the tools, support and community high school students need to excel in their education. All participating teens received a behind-the-scenes career tour of NBA All-Star; an opportunity to meet with NBA players; the chance to be on the court during the TACO BELL® Skills Challenge to cheer on their NBA player; and an educational scholarship.

The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens provides grants and scholarships so that teens have access to the resources they need to reach their full potential.

About Taco Bell Foundation for Teens

The Taco Bell Foundation Inc., also known as Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, is committed to inspiring and enabling America's teens to achieve mas through its programs, partnerships, and direct financial assistance. Every year, the Foundation serves more than 100,000 teens in more than 150 communities across the country and awards more than 350 grants and scholarships focused on education and career preparedness. Since 1992, we've awarded more than $35 million to support more than 1,000 teen-serving organizations in the U.S. with the help of ongoing customer, franchisee, employee and vendor partner donations. For more information visit, and find us on Facebook at

About Taco Bell Corp.

Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties such as the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet inspired Cantina Bell® Menu and lower calorie Fresco Menu. The company encourages customers to "Live Mas," both through its food and in ways such as its Feed the Beat® music program and nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organization have nearly 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 36 million customers every week.


Michael Ramirez

SOURCE Taco Bell Corp.



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