IRVINE, Calif - May 16, 2014 - (BUSINESS WIRE) - Say Cheese! It's back and bigger than ever. The Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™, together with Get Schooled and Viacom, are inviting teens to submit an entry into the second annual #TimesSquareYearbook project. To participate, students are asked to explain how they have lived up to their Graduate for Mas™ promise to graduate high school and submit their best photo for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be featured in the heart of New York City, thanks to the support of Viacom, a Get Schooled founding partner. The students with the most compelling stories will be showcased on a Times Square digital billboard on June 11, 2014. Students will also have a chance to win $10,000 college scholarships and Beats by Dre headphones.
Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, in partnership with Get Schooled, launched the Graduate for Más campaign in 2013. In only one year, almost 200,000 high school students have made the promise from 14,000 high schools representing all 50 states. And the campaign is having an impact. Close to two-thirds of schools with high percentages of students who have made the promise have posted an increase in school attendance. Students who have made the promise and achieved gains have been recognized by ambassadors including Tyrese Gibson, Trey Songz, Kendrick Lamar, and James Harden.
Times Square Yearbook will highlight 400 high school students who have made the promise to graduate and have persisted in spite of challenges**. Since April 9, more than 2,000 students have applied to be part of the yearbook, including Indra Torres, Class of 2016 at Jurupa High School in California: "I WILL graduate high school. I try my best to keep that goal by working hard, attending school, and being involved. I am one of the students who ignores all the negativity at school and help others who are in trouble."
Throughout May, Get Schooled celebrity ambassadors will visit high schools and personally notify students that they have earned their way into the Yearbook. As part of the #DiggysGirl campaign, Diggy Simmons, Atlantic Record recording artist, will visit up to three high schools. This week, Diggy traveled to in Brooklyn, NY to recognize Dami Taiwo-Oniga, a senior at Midwood High School.
"Seeing the overwhelming number of teens join the Graduate for Más movement and participate in last year's Times Square Yearbook project was such an inspiration," said Regina Borda, Managing Director of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. "We are so glad to do it again. Teens want their stories to be heard. This project allows us to recognize and share their special moments in a big way and reward them for their tremendous work and commitment to graduation."
Every year, close to one million teens drop out of high school and nearly one in five American students will not graduate on time1. As a brand that serves 36 million customers in more than 6,000 restaurants across the U.S. each week, Taco Bell is in the very communities where teens live, work and play and recognizes its opportunity to inspire and enable them to live más. Since 1992, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has provided educational and job training support to more than two million teens across the country. Through programs like "Graduate for Más," partnerships with likeminded organizations and direct financial assistance for teens in need, the Foundation is closing in on the dropout crisis.
The Times Square yearbook project coincides with Taco Bell's® sixth annual in-store national fundraiser, which enables the Foundation to grant millions of dollars each year to support local academic, career, and mentorship resources and experiences through partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs and Junior Achievement. Now through June 2, in participating Taco Bell restaurants across the U.S., anyone who donates $1 in support of the Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™ will be recognized with a personalized card posted on a wall in that specific restaurant, inspiring others to support and donate to the cause.
For more information on the Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™ and the Graduate for Mas™ program, visit tacobellforteens.org and graduateformas.com.
Taco Bell Foundation Inc., also known as Taco Bell Foundation for Teens™, is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation committed to inspiring and enabling America's teens to graduate from high school and achieve más through its programs, partnerships, and direct financial assistance. Since 1992, the Foundation has served over 2 million teens in 6,000 communities across the country where Taco Bell restaurants have a presence. Through the support of our customers, franchisees, employees and vendor-partners over the last 20 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $45 million in grants and scholarships focused on education and career readiness. For more information on the Foundation and its commitment to teens – Taco Bell team members, friends and future leaders – visit tacobellforteens.org, and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TacoBell4Teens.
Get Schooled is a non-profit organization that directly engages and motivates students to graduate from high school and succeed in college. Get Schooled is the premiere education brand for young people – linking students with high quality, cutting edge resources and tools they need to succeed. Get Schooled has developed a track record of success because it engages with young Americans using the media, technology and popular culture that is an integral part of their lives. Get Schooled's work is boosted by partners like Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its first two years, Get Schooled has engaged more than 2.5 million young Americans and has built a network of more than 325 middle and high schools.
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 Más," both through its food and in ways such as its Feed The Beat® music program and its not-for-profit organization, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens™. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations have nearly 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 36 million customers every week.
*America's Promise Alliance. Grad Nation Report, 2014.
** For more details about entering the sweepstakes, visit the official rules page.