Appealing to young consumers, Taco Bell announces $21M college scholarship giveaway

Taco Bell wants to be known for more than just fast food—the restaurant has announced plans to award more than $21 million in college scholarships by the year 2021 through its Taco Bell Foundation. CNBC reports that this sort of philanthropic effort is becoming more common as major corporations shift their marketing tactics to reflect the priorities of young consumers, many of whom care deeply about college affordability.

No SATs or GPAs—just a two-minute video

Students age 16-24 can apply for the Live Más Scholarship—with awards ranging from $5,000 to $25,000—simply by submitting a two-minute video describing their unique passion.

Reasoning that talented students are often overlooked for scholarships determined by traditional criteria, the Taco Bell Foundation decided to assess applicants without considering grade point averages, test scores, or essays. “Most scholarships are geared toward traditional academic and athletic tracks,” Tina Nguyen, executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation, told CNBC. “We saw a need and opportunity to support the hardworking innovators and creators whose passions may not fit into these two categories, the students who find success by breaking the status quo.”

Related: Standardized test scores carrying less weight, says report on college admissions >

Past scholarship winners have submitted videos about their dreams to create films, change politics, and develop a tool to aid early diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. With the scholarship program currently in its fourth year, Taco Bell Foundation is doubling its commitment.

“We know that affordability is a major barrier to education, so we hope that by doubling our funding, we can double the number of doors opened for young people, and remove twice as many obstacles for innovators, creators, and dreamers,” Nguyen said in a statement.

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