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Mark Wahlberg & Taco Bell Foundation for Teens Team Up to Fight High School Dropout Crisis Taco Bell customers are invited to donate $1 to help teens graduate during April Graduate To Go fundraiser

IRVINE, Calif., April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens announced today its Graduate To Go fundraiser that will be held April 7-21 at participating Taco Bell® restaurants nationwide. During this time, customers can donate to the graduation cause and Taco Bell restaurants have committed to match customer contributions up to $1 million, nationwide.  The success of the 2010 national fundraiser enabled the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to grant $2.2 million to Boys & Girls Clubs and other partner organizations that inspire teens to graduate high school.  This year, the Foundation aspires to surpass this goal to reach even more teens.

"We are thrilled to announce our annual Graduate To Go™ Fundraiser and the continued support of Mark Wahlberg as our Graduate To Go Ambassador," says Bob Fulmer, executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. "These funds will play an integral role in supporting a number of experiential teen programs proven to help teens stay in school."  

Actor/Producer Mark Wahlberg serves as the Graduate To Go ambassador for the second consecutive year, joining the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to promote the importance of staying in school and securing a diploma. Wahlberg will appear in an April national campaign to raise awareness and encourage support of the fundraiser. He also supports teen programs through his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.  

"This cause is close to my heart, and I am proud to be a partner of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens," said Mark Wahlberg. "The real-world experiences, scholarships, and grants this fundraiser makes possible are life- changing for these teens, and the generous donations are truly helping to make a difference in America's drop-out crisis."

Throughout the fundraiser, customers are encouraged to donate $1 to help teens graduate.  As thanks for their support, participating restaurants will give contributors a taco coupon. During the fundraiser period, customers can also donate online at www.graduatetogo.com.  The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens will also thank online donors with a taco coupon during the fundraiser period.  

Graduate To Go is a long-term effort to raise awareness of the high-school dropout crisis and encourage teens to get their diploma. The initiative funds real-world experiences, such as job training and college preparation, proven to motivate teens to stay in school.   Through the Graduate to Go initiative, the Foundation funded College and Business Camps in over 10 markets last year and awarded more than 350 grants and scholarships to serve teens.

"Taco Bell has given me a life-changing experience," said 17-year-old Karen Batani, a Boys & Girls Club of Wesminster member who attended the Graduate To Go Business Camp and earned $30,000 in Graduate to Go educational scholarships. "It feels incredible to no longer have to worry about money for college. I want to ensure that I give back, since the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has given so much to me."

About the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens

The Taco Bell Foundation, Inc., also known as the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens (TBFT), a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, is committed to addressing the growing number of high school dropouts in the U.S. by providing at-risk youth with mentors and real-world experiences that will motivate them to stay in school and achieve more in life, and to collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to garner greater impact. Since 1995, TBFT has donated more than $28 million to support teen programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other teen-serving organizations with the help of on-going customer, franchisee and employee donations.  For more information about TBFT, visit www.graduatetogo.com, and find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GraduateToGo.

About Taco Bell Corp.

Taco Bell Corp. ("Taco Bell"), a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, signature quesadillas, grilled stuffed Burritos, nachos, and other specialty items such as Crunchwrap Supreme®, in addition to the 79-89-99 WHY PAY MORE®! Value Menu. Taco Bell serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.

About The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation

Mark Wahlberg and his family established the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation on the belief that no child should be prevented to living up to his or her potential due to financial hardship.  The Foundation works to improve the quality of life for teens living in urban communities and distributes funds to support local youth service and enrichment programs nationwide. A life-long member and advocate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Mark comes from a family of nine children with limited means and spent most of his afternoons and evenings at his local club.   He credits a large part of his success to the fact that he was fortunate to spend his free time in a positive and nurturing environment.  Visit www.markwahlbergyouthfoundation.com.  

SOURCE The Taco Bell Foundation



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