LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- This past Saturday, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens' Graduate to Go Scholars program and NBA Cares awarded Karen Batani, 17 from Westminster, California a scholarship valued at $30,000 after her NBA player, Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors, claimed victory in the TACO BELL® Skills Challenge during NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm. Batani was one of five teens from Boys & Girls Clubs in the Southern California area paired with Skills Challenge participants who competed for their scholarships.
Batani was selected as a Graduate to Go Scholar for her outstanding leadership qualities and inspiration to her peers both in and out of school. Batani has undergone many challenges at home throughout her childhood, but despite these, she has been involved in her school's student government and has been a member of the varsity basketball team since entering high school. Outside of school, she tutors younger children at the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster and participates in many of their community service events. She also won second place in the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens Graduate to Go Business Camp for her ideas on how to help end the genocide in Darfur.
All five finalists received "A Day with the NBA" experience of a lifetime during NBA All-Star 2011, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NBA All-Star operations at the STAPLES Center; opportunity to meet with NBA players, media and staff; and participation in NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas and All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm.
"It's exciting to win for someone as deserving as Karen," said Curry. "She is the real all-star for demonstrating commitment to graduating from high school and continuing on to college. I was glad to be able to participate in this event for Karen, NBA Cares and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens."
Each Graduate to Go Scholar was carefully selected from applications received through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Southern California area and then paired with an NBA player in the TACO BELL Skills Challenge. The TACO BELL Skills Challenge featured five top NBA players, four of whom were selected through an online fan vote during the "Choose Your Squad" promotion on NBA.com. During the TACO BELL Skills Challenge, the players competed in an "obstacle course" consisting of dribbling, passing, and shooting stations. The two players with the fastest times advanced to the finals to compete for the championship.
The teen matched with the winner of the TACO BELL® Skills Challenge won the $30,000 scholarship; the teen whose NBA player won second place received a $10,000 scholarship; and the remaining three finalists each won a $5,000 scholarship. Violet Miehle, paired with second place Skills Challenge player Russell Westbrook, is from Calabasas, California and was recently named 2011 Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu. Miehle plans to attend college next year to learn the skills to become a Special Education teacher. Additional teens who were awarded $5,000 scholarships included:
- Abigail Sepdo, a 17 year old from San Pedro, California, struggles with hearing disabilities in both ears, but has been able to regain her confidence through the support of the Boys & Girls Club of LA Harbor and is now in the process of applying to college.
- Daniel Diaz, 18, from Oxnard, CA was named the 2011 Youth of the Year for his exemplary service to his Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme and his community. .
- Xavier Butler, 17, serves as a strong role model to the younger children through the Boys & Girls Club of Challengers.
For the past fifteen years, The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and its supporting programs have helped more than 500,000 teens stay in school and on the path to graduation through its national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and affiliation with other non-profit organizations. The Graduate to Go Scholars program is part of the Foundation's Graduate To Go initiative, a national 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, College and Business camps, and scholarships proven to motivate teens to stay in school.
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 or 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 Stuft Burritos, nachos, and other specialty items such as Crunchwrap Supreme®, in addition to the 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 NBA Cares
NBA Cares is the league's social responsibility initiative that builds on the NBA's long tradition of addressing important social issues in the United States and around the world. Through this umbrella program, the NBA, its teams and players have donated than $150 million to charity, completed more than 1.5 million hours of hands-on community service, and created more than 560 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play, in 22 countries and territories on five continents. NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: KaBOOM!, Special Olympics, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
SOURCE Taco Bell Foundation for Teens