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WATCH: Taco Bell Foundation Surprises Worker With Scholarship Money

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The fifth annual scholarship awards will bring the Taco Bell Foundation to a total of $17 million in awarded scholarships, working toward its commitment of awarding $21 million by 2021.

On November 6, the Taco Bell Foundation opened applications for its fifth annual round of Live Más Scholarships, which will award more than $6 million to passionate young students. This year’s scholarship awards will be nearly $2 million more than last year and bring the Taco Bell Foundation to $17 million in total awarded scholarships, well on schedule to meet its commitment of awarding $21 million by 2021.

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“With student debt in America reaching an all-time high, the Taco Bell Foundation is proud to be part of the solution, fulfilling a growing need for accessible scholarship opportunities,” said Tina Nguyen, Executive Director of the Taco Bell Foundation. “In the last round, we received an unprecedented 13,000 applications to our scholarship, which demonstrates the tremendous amount of students who will likely seek financial assistance from our program this year as well.”

The Taco Bell Foundation will choose winners whose passion and pioneering spirit burn so brightly, they don’t just influence their peers – they inspire them. This year’s scholarships for first-time recipients will range from $5,000-$25,000 per student, totaling more than $6 million and are open to both Taco Bell team members and fans, ages 16-24, nationwide. Past winners can also apply to renew their scholarships. To apply, students must submit a simple two-minute video describing their passion and how they’ll use it to make a difference. No grades. No essays. No test scores. Just a video about a passion. The application will close on January 23, with winners announced in spring 2020.

To help fund the Live Más Scholarship, the Taco Bell Foundation accepts donations year-round through Round Up, where customers can ’round up’ their order total to the nearest dollar at the front-counter and kiosk. Twice a year, the Taco Bell Foundation also hosts a two-week National Fundraiser, which includes Round Up in drive-thru, to promote donations to the scholarship fund and educational programs. From Oct. 17-31 this year, all customers who rounded up their total in a participating Taco Bell restaurant were given a coupon for a free crunchy taco or medium drink (freezes excluded), redeemable from November 1-15 at participating restaurants. To date, Round Up has raised more than $17 million for youth education since its launch in January 2019.

The Taco Bell Foundation is not merely a one-off check writer – winners of the scholarship are given access to a network of like-minded peers and mentors to build connections and develop personal and professional skills. This summer, the Taco Bell Foundation gathered 200 scholars at Live Más Scholarship Workshops in San Francisco, Irvine, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Philadelphia to help the students explore how to follow their passion in the professional world and how to use it to serve others. The Taco Bell Foundation also collaborates with partners such as MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to connect students with mentors, DoSomething.org to encourage young people to pursue their passion, and Moneythink to support young people’s financial literacy.

Check out some of the 2019 winners below:

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  • $45,000 multiple renewal winner and Taco Bell team member Ricarda U. balances volunteer work and shifts at Taco Bell while pursuing a degree in pre-med
  • $25,000 winner, artist and Taco Bell team member Megan H. achieved her goal of attending a four-year college with the help of the Live Más Scholarship
  • $25,000 winner and trumpet player Miles S. plans to help cure Alzheimer’s by combining his passion for music with biomedical engineering
  • $10,000 winner and former Kitchen Innovation Intern at Taco Bell headquarters, Shawn P. develops apps that improve personal healthcare
  • $5,000 winner Amelia T. is using her master’s degree in Integrated Design, Business and Technology at USC to fight homelessness in Los Angeles county (learn more about Amelia when you Round Up at a kiosk near you)

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