Viacom, Tacos, and Times Square: How 300 Young Adults Celebrated the Importance of Education

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

Viacom, Get Schooled, and the Taco Bell Foundation teamed up once again this spring for a project called Times Square Yearbook. We asked young people to tell us how education has helped them pursue their passions. The kids with the best answers earned a spot on a Times Square billboard and a $1,000 scholarship.

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

On June 8, 2016 we celebrated the winners:  300 students from 38 states.  These young adults stood out because of their determination to make a difference in the world. For students like Dilenny and Perla, this meant creating a nonprofit to raise money to fund “free laundry days” at their neighborhood Laundromat, after noticing some of their peers skipping school because their families could not afford to do laundry.

The winners were thrilled to see their billboards in Times Square:

And so were their parents:

But Times Square Yearbook didn’t just happen on the billboards. More than 60 of the winners and their families (some from as far away as California and Oklahoma) joined us at Viacom headquarters in New York City to celebrate the occasion.

MTV News producer and rapper Sway Calloway emceed the event. Calloway was joined by A.N.T. Farm actress and 2016 high school graduate, China Anne McClain, and Taco Bell franchisee Leigh Anne Tuohy. Tuohy is also a Taco Bell Foundation board member.

It was a day full of laughter, sharing talents, learning, and getting to know each other. The emcees held a Q&A for the students in the audience. The kids even performed their own songs for the studio audience.

McClain reaffirmed the importance of education. “It’s never too late to learn and it’s never too early to start your passions,” said McClain. “In order to keep acting and singing, I had to make sure I put school first.”

Students were in awe at how much a fellow graduate had accomplished. McClain was equally impressed by the students and their stories. Tuohy offered words of encouragement as well.

“You’re the generation that can change the world,” said Tuohy. “Never underestimate yourself!”

Everyone enjoyed a catered Taco Bell meal as they took pictures with McClain and mingled. Afterwards, the full and happy students gathered outside in Times Square to see their faces and stories on a billboard.

Learn more about how education can make a difference on GetSchooled.com.

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