McDonald’s USA announced June 25 the launch of its $500,000 Black & Positively Golden® Scholarship Fund to help students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue their education this fall, despite impacts of COVID-19. Facilitated by Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), scholarships will be distributed for the 2020-2021 academic year. The announcement comes in conjunction with the launch of the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience, in which McDonald’s officially kicks off its partnership with the ESSENCE Girls United HBCU initiative.
“We know that education is the key to success,” said Marissa Fisher, a second-generation McDonald’s franchisee with four restaurants in southeast Louisiana. “With many college students uncertain of returning to classes in the wake of COVID-19, we understand HBCU students will be most impacted. As a brand with roots that run deep in communities, McDonald’s has been part of these students’ lives while growing up and is the place where many received their first jobs. We want to help ease some of the stress caused by this pandemic as they plan to return to school.”
According to TMCF, supporting HBCUs is increasingly paramount. These institutions face challenges of supporting a large percentage of low-income students (up to 90% at some schools), while managing unexpected costs related to shifting to an online education infrastructure.
“This year, donations to HBCUs are even more critical, as students continue dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and, now, civil unrest and demands for Black equality,” said Harry L. Williams, Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO. “Black students, with allies from across the globe, are calling for companies to do more than issue statements and run ads. That’s why TMCF is excited to further our commitment with McDonald’s to help keep more Black students in college.”
Commemorating a 20-year partnership with the ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience, McDonald’s is also embarking on a collaboration with the ESSENCE Girls United HBCU initiative, powered by Black & Positively Golden. The multi-week program kicks off this fall with inspiring virtual events for student entrepreneurs. Through this program, McDonald’s will also award seed capital and exclusive mentoring opportunities to select participants.
These initiatives are natural extensions of the company’s longstanding commitment to advancing education, as previously demonstrated through its partnership with TMCF and its Archways to Opportunity program for restaurant crew and managers. On a mission to supporting communities nationwide, McDonald’s strives to be a catalyst of change by funding scholarships, leadership training and dream building.
“I often tell my employees that McDonald’s is more than burgers and fries,” said Fisher, who began working as a crew member in her parents’ McDonald’s restaurants prior to becoming a franchisee. “I’m proud to be part of a global brand that is stepping up to help America’s Black future leaders continue their education during such a challenging time.”
Viewers will hear more from Fisher on McDonald’s upcoming program with Girls United during the ESSENCE Festival of Culture: Unstoppable Virtual Experience. The announcement will take place during a Girls United panel, which will bring together actresses Lexi Underwood and Lovie Simone for a powerful “Checking In On Our Girls” discussion, slated for Saturday, June 27 at 3:50pm EST. The vibrant duo will have a transparent conversation on topics, including how young Black girls are managing their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being in the wake of global unrest; community activism; healthy self-esteem; the impact of social distancing and resources to help them rehabilitate through it all. Visit ESSENCE Studios now to register.
HBCU students can apply for a Black & Positively Golden scholarship now through August 3, by clicking here. For more information on McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden movement, follow @wearegolden on Instagram.