Irvine, Calif. (August 30, 2013) – Taco Bell Corp., together with the Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™; Get Schooled and Viacom’s umbrella for social responsibility, Viacommunity, today recognized students in Bethel, Alaska who won an academic competition for their proven commitment to graduating high school with a star-studded celebratory event. Hosted at Bethel Regional High School, the activities included a school assembly with by hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar, MTV VJ Sway and NBA player James Harden, and a leadership training course hosted yesterday afternoon by Taco Bell® CEO, Greg Creed.
Get Schooled, and its partners, the Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™ and Viacom, are recognizing the extraordinary efforts of Bethel Regional High School’s staff, students and community.
“Bethel is an example of what can happen when an entire community comes together to support students in reaching their goals,” said Marie Groark, executive director of the Get Schooled Foundation. “Get Schooled, Taco Bell and Viacom are excited to show Bethel’s teens that their hard work and commitment to creating positive futures did not go unnoticed.”
MTV New Correspondent Sway said, “As part of the Viacom family, I’ve had the privilege to join in on numerous events for Viacommunity and for Get Schooled, which speaks directly to students and inspires them to do what they need to on the road to success. I’m proud to have the chance to celebrate Bethel’s teens and the investment they made in themselves and their futures.”
In the spring of 2013, Get Schooled, a national non-profit, sponsored the three-month competition involving 325 high schools in 14 states aimed at improving college readiness. Bethel's student council spearheaded the effort by mobilizing their peers to participate in the competition and prepare for college. As a result of their efforts, Bethel’s students seized the top prize, coming together to achieve a 100 percent participation rate in activities such as Twitter chats with college experts and college exploratory sessions.
Most importantly, more than 80 percent of its graduating seniors worked with their College & Career Guide to apply to college or technical schools. Four other Alaska College & Career Advising Corps high schools placed in the top 15. The friendly competition was supported by USA Funds.
“In the beginning, a lot of students thought our school was too small, and we didn’t have a chance,” said former Bethel student leader Alfred Wallace, 18, now a freshman at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. “But once we came together as a unified student body, we realized that we could compete with students from all over the country. By winning, we were able to show that all it takes is motivation and energy, and even the small town of Bethel can succeed in a national competition.”
Bethel’s impressive solidarity from the student body and support from the local community not only helped the school beat out 325 other high schools to win the competition, but also inspired Taco Bell’s CEO, Greg Creed. He committed to return to Bethel and help the teens achieve más by personally conducting a leadership course.
The high school celebration represents Taco Bell’s second visit to Bethel, a uniquely remote community accessible only by plane or ship. Following a 2012 hoax that convinced Bethel’s residents that a Taco Bell® restaurant would open in their city and left them disappointed to find it untrue, Taco Bell airlifted a Taco Truck to the rural community, feeding 10,000 people and awarding a $10,000 grant to its local high school.
“At Taco Bell, we passionately serve each other and the communities around us. We made it to Bethel once, against all odds. The opportunity to return shows that feeding people’s lives with ‘más’ can mean much more than just giving them food,” said Taco Bell® CEO Greg Creed. “It can mean helping them find their purpose and giving them the tools they need to get there.”
For more than 20 years, the Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™ has dedicated its efforts to identifying and addressing the issues that teens face as they navigate the path to graduation. Its core programs include Graduate for Más™, a digital platform co-created with Get Schooled that provides the tools, support and community resources high school students need to graduate high school and achieve más. Since its May launch, more than 25,000 teens have made the Graduate for Más pledge to graduate.
For more information on Taco Bell and its Foundation, visit TacoBell.com and TacoBellForTeens.org. To learn more about Get Schooled, visit GetSchooled.com. For more information about Viacommunity, visit viacommunity.com.
About Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp. (“Taco Bell”), 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 charitable 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.
About Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™
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 achieve más through its programs, partnerships, and direct financial assistance. Every year, the Foundation serves more than 100,000 teens in more than 180 communities across the country and awards more than 300 grants and scholarships focused on education and career preparedness. Since 1992, the Foundation has awarded more than $42 million in support of more than 1,000 teen-serving organizations in the U.S. through customer, franchisee, employee and vendor-partner donations. For more information visit tacobellforteens.org, and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TacoBell4Teens.
About Get Schooled
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 three years, Get Schooled has engaged more than 3 million young Americans and has built a network of more than 600 middle and high schools.
Viacom is home to the world's premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms in over 160 countries and territories. With media networks reaching approximately 700 million global subscribers, Viacom's leading brands include MTV,VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, COMEDY CENTRAL,TV Land, SPIKE, Tr3s, Paramount Channel and VIVA. Paramount Pictures, America's oldest film studio and creator of many of the most beloved motion pictures, continues today as a major global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. Viacom operates a large portfolio of branded digital media experiences, including many of the world's most popular properties for entertainment, community and casual online gaming.