Irvine-Based Taco Bell Foundation Awarding $7.5 Million in Annual Scholarships

Irvine-Based Taco Bell Foundation Awarding $7.5 Million in Annual Scholarships
Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, Calif. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell)
Sarah Le

The Taco Bell Foundation, based in Irvine, California, has started accepting applications for its annual Live Más Scholarship program for students enrolling in higher education.

The foundation is offering more than $7.5 million to youth from 16 to 26 years old, with $2 million reserved for Taco Bell employees. This is the sixth year the organization has offered the scholarships to students.

To apply, students must submit two-minute videos that describe their passions and how they plan to pursue them.

The foundation website asks applicants, “How do you plan to use your passion to uniquely make a positive change in your community or the world? How will your education help enable you to pursue your passion and make a change?”

The applicants must be legal residents of the United States, and on track to apply for or enroll in an accredited college, university, or trade school. Applications, which are free, began on Nov. 17 and will be accepted until Jan. 20, 2021.

“The pandemic has caused financial strain for families around the country, yet young people’s passions haven’t gone away,” said Jennifer Bradbury, interim executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation.

“We are hopeful that this year’s scholarships will provide many creative, passionate fans and Taco Bell team members opportunities they may not have otherwise had,” she said.

“We are also proud to continue expanding our partnerships and resources to ignite change and create a better future for our scholars as they make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

Next year’s winners will be announced on or around May 17, 2021.

There were more than 10 scholarship winners in 2020 from Orange County, including Aaron G. from Newport Beach, who is studying statistics, Chloe R. from Laguna Niguel, whose passion is health and fitness, and Crystal M. from the City of Orange, who is studying fashion. Other county winners were studying social work, graphic design, medicine, photography, agriculture, and more.

Another recent scholarship recipient, Victoria L., said she was hired at Taco Bell on her 17th birthday and has worked there for about 15 months.

“I just wanted a job for the summer, but once I got there I saw that they really took care of other team members, and I always felt very respected,” she said.

When Victoria’s supervisor told her about the scholarship program, she knew it could be a positive thing for her future. She hopes to major in environmental studies.

When she was told she had been awarded $10,000, she said she was “literally shaking.”

“I even now can’t even believe how lucky I have been to get it,” she said. “You wouldn’t expect working at fast food to be able to leave with most of your college paid for.”

The Taco Bell Foundation also has a scholarship renewal program for those who have previously won a Live Más Scholarship.

The organization has awarded more than $95 million since 1992 through various education and career-related grants and scholarships to more than 4 million youngsters in the United States.

An Orange County city is also providing grants to students, though of a different nature.

The City of Newport Beach is offering “Inside the Outdoors” grants this year to middle school and high school students for virtual science programs.

Topics include learning about Orange County’s water sources and water usage, as well as the history of the modern sanitation system and how it’s related to the activities of the Orange County Sanitation District. The classes run through June 2021.

Registration is now available to youth who attend Newport Beach schools.