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McDonald-s-Future-22-Grants.jpg McDonald's USA LLC
McDonald's awarded $10,000 grants to its Future 22 leaders during an event during the Essence Festival in New Orleans, La.

McDonald’s surprises ‘Future 22’ leaders with grants

Burger brand awards $220K to change agents’ community projects during Essence Festival event

McDonald’s USA LCC, through its Black & Positively Golden movement, surprised its Future 22 leaders with $10,000 each, totaling $220,000, during an event in their honor at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, La.

The Chicago-based company launched the Future 22 program earlier this year

“It's a platform that McDonald's wanted to tap into in terms of where we could give voices to some of the next generation and future leaders in America,” said Elizabeth Campbell, the brand’s senior director of cultural engagement, in an interview earlier this year.

The program features non-celebrity individuals who are making an impact on their communities in a variety of ways, she said.

“We wanted to partner with people who are making a difference in their community and put a spotlight on them and shine through the work that they are doing so that people would know about them,” Campbell said. “That way it would help amplify the work that they are doing in the communities in which they come from.”

The Essence Festival event, presented by Coca-Cola, included Keke Palmer, the actress, singer and entertainer who serves as the Future 22 spokesperson.

Since February, McDonald’s has told the Future 22 leaders’ stories through an integrated marketing campaign that includes videos on Instagram at @wearegolden and McDonald’s YouTube channel, as well as TV and radio spots voiced over by Palmer.

During the celebratory event held at Essence Fest, Palmer and Marissa Fisher, a second-generation McDonald’s owner-operator in New Orleans, participated in a fireside chat moderated by Campbell.

“This year’s Essence Fest theme was ‘Black Joy,’ and we couldn’t wait to celebrate all 22 leaders and bring them to New Orleans, in honor of their accomplishments,” Campbell in a statement. “We certainly could’ve surprised them virtually, but making them a part of our Essence Fest moment meant unlocking the additional community of supporters who are McDonald’s owner/operators and the Essence Fest family, to further celebrate them and demonstrate our belief in their work.”

McDonald’s has sponsored the Essence Festival for more than 20 years.

McDonald’s also reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Black media and communities of color by convening some of the leading voices in marketing, media, business and technology for panels that offered tips and resources.

McDonald's USA LLC owns and franchises about 13,500 restaurants in the United States.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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