KFC Scholarships Seek to Restart Employees’ Academic Ambitions

Senior Editor

A little-known fact about an icon of American business: Colonel Sanders was a 6th grade dropout.

Now the philanthropy tied to the company Harland Sanders founded, Kentucky Fried Chicken, has announced its latest efforts to help employees whose academic ambitions were similarly derailed. The Kentucky Fried Chicken Foundation will award $2,000 scholarships to 508 of its hourly employees to attend two- or four-year colleges. The program is just one example of how companies are investing in the skills development of employees whose educational backgrounds to date have been limited. 

Over the past two years, more than 800 KFC employees have received grants, known as REACH Educational Grants, worth about $1.5 million. Since 2006, the foundation estimates it has provided $11 million worth of overall educational grants.

Many of the recipients of the awards—54 percent of them—are already attending college, and 40 percent are recent high school graduates entering college, according to the KFC foundation. Four percent are in graduate school, and two pecent are planning to go to a trade or vocational school.

One of the new recipients is a 43-year-old single mother and breast cancer survivor whose goal is to become a radiology technologist and help others fighting the disease, according to the foundation. Another is a 25-year-old who earns money to support her family in her native El Salvador, and hopes to become an immigration lawyer.

Winners are selected through a competitive application, and they can re-apply for new awards each year. KFC employees with the titles of team members and shift managers, who work at least 15 hours a week, can apply.

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