McDonald’s student support helps future Black leaders to succeed

McDonald’s student support helps future Black leaders to succeed

 November 30, 2021

Between class work, finances, the pandemic and stress about finding a job, students have a lot to worry about, especially Black collegians. In fact, in a recent study of Black college students conducted by McDonald’s, three in four respondents acknowledged struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression. 

To help students relieve some of their worries and provide access to needed support, McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Scholarship Program is awarding $500,000 in scholarships to 35 students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), as well as lifetime memberships to Shine, a leading minority-owned stress and anxiety management app. 

“We take seriously the opportunity we have to help our future Black leaders succeed,” said Marty Gillis, New Jersey McDonald's Owner/Operator and a National Diversity Marketing Committee Lead. "The intense and sustained financial and emotional challenges of the past two years have been difficult for many Black students, which is why McDonald's and our Owner/Operators are committed to meeting them where they are by providing resources and support, in addition to scholarships.”

A focus on inclusivity, representation and access 

In the study, more than 72 percent of respondents said they would have liked to speak to a mental health professional, but didn’t, and 46 percent found it too difficult to find a mental health professional with whom they were comfortable talking. Through the Shine partnership, not only will the 2021 scholarship recipients receive lifetime app memberships – providing access to personalized self-care tools – they will also be able to offer one to a friend. Additionally, each of this year’s 1,400 scholarship applicants will receive a one-year membership courtesy of McDonald’s

Inclusivity and representation in mental health are so important. But barriers to access, which are typically financial, make these resources unattainable for many,” said Marah Lidey, co-founder and co-CEO of Shine. "This partnership is a powerful opportunity to break down some of these walls, not just for McDonald’s scholarship recipients, but for Black students across the country.”

Organizing virtual events to support student wellbeing

To support Black college students nationwide, McDonald’s, Shine and the “culture’s psychologist,” Dr. Jessica Clemons, hosted a free 30-minute, virtual roundtable: Real Talk: A Candid Conversation on Black Mental Wellness & College. During this virtual event, students engaged in a meaningful conversation on mental health, its impact in the Black community, and self-care strategies that include tips on accessing resources. 

Ongoing financial and emotional support 

Building on a 20-year partnership with TMCF, the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Scholarship Program was created in 2020 to help HBCU students continue their education amid COVID-19, which caused financial strain on many families. Financial strain remains an issue as the McDonald’s survey revealed that personal finances are a source of stress and anxiety for 45 percent of Black students, highlighting the need for ongoing financial and emotional support.

McDonald’s and TMCF have awarded more than $1M in scholarships to HBCU students since the program’s launch. Scholarship recipients will also receive school supplies including a tablet, backpack, and more, to help with their day-to-day studies.

“TMCF is committed to holistically supporting HBCU students and removing barriers they may encounter on the road to graduation,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO. We know that many students experienced unforeseen financial hardships that put their plans for pursuing higher education in jeopardy. "We are pleased to continue our 20-year relationship with McDonald’s to build upon our shared commitment to our students, who have persisted in their educational journey despite difficult circumstances.”

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