Taco Bell asked itself: Shouldn't the leaders in the Taco Bell system reflect the people who eat and work there? To break down potential barriers and further diversify its franchise system, Taco Bell announced that it is rolling out Taco Bell Business School in partnership with the University of Louisville: a first-of-its-kind franchise training program to elevate restaurant leaders as entrepreneurs and break down barriers to franchise ownership.

Taco Bell Business School will be supported through the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence in partnership with the University of Louisville. Yum!, Taco Bell's parent company, launched the Center with University of Louisville's College of Business in 2021 to unlock opportunities for underrepresented communities through education on the business of franchising. The Taco Bell pilot program will leverage this partnership to create pathways for restaurant leaders to advance in their careers while helping the brand build a more diverse franchise system.

"We know that fast food jobs are often seen as stepping stones to other careers," said Mark King, Chief Executive Officer of Taco Bell. "And we're trying to change that. Through the Taco Bell Business School, we want to show our ambitious restaurant leaders how their careers could flourish at Taco Bell and see opportunities they may not have previously considered. We want to make foundational changes that positively impact our diverse team members' growth. This program will teach them skills they need to climb the ladder – whether that's moving up to the next level or even owning their own franchise one day."

The six-week business bootcamp will teach top-performing restaurant leaders the fundamentals of franchise ownership, leveraging existing curriculum from the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, infused with a Taco Bell twist. The classes will provide accredited education and training on critical business and entrepreneurial skills, from financing, growth and development to marketing and HR. Taco Bell has partnered with its dedicated franchisees to share their expertise and inspire future franchise owners.

"When I first started working in a Taco Bell restaurant in 1983, I thought I would only stay for a few months," said Tina Reagan, president and COO of franchise K-Mac Enterprises. "Little did I know, I would end up staying for a few decades and eventually managing and operating 319 restaurants. As someone who started as a team member, I know firsthand that franchise ownership can be an intimidating path. But it's been very rewarding. I am proud to work for a company that is working to build a path to franchise ownership for restaurant leaders from diverse backgrounds across all levels."

Participants will be given scholarships to cover tuition for the program and will be recognized internally within the Taco Bell system for their accomplishment. Not to mention, they'll receive some fun branded swag so they can show off their Business School pride.

The first class of Taco Bell Business School students will start the bootcamp in February 2022. Taco Bell will continue to grow the program in the future and build a talent pipeline for strong field leadership.

"I believe that businesses and educational institutions have a responsibility to work together to break down barriers and create opportunities for those who wouldn't otherwise have them," said Kathy Gosser, Director of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence. "The close working relationship between Yum!, Taco Bell and the University of Louisville demonstrates the power of collaboration. Together we can help people learn new skills, fuel their entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately build a better future for generations."

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