With its cheap prices and late-night "fourth meal" pedigree, Taco Bell has long been a favorite on college campuses. In 2020, Penn State students even held a candlelight vigil when one of their Taco Bell locations closed. But what if Taco Bell was the college?
This week, the Tex-Mex chain announced the launch of the Taco Bell Business School, a partnership with the University of Louisville offering accredited classes on the business of franchising.
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Though getting an education from Taco Bell may sound like the setup to a late-night drive-thru joke, the program is actually an extension of an existing partnership between the University of Louisville's College of Business and Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! (which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut). Launched last year, the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence was specifically created "to unlock opportunities in franchising for underrepresented people of color and women."
"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," Kathy Gosser, director of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, said in the announcement. "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."
Of course, Taco Bell's program — which will operate as a six-week bootcamp starting next month — will have what the brand calls "a Taco Bell twist." Not only will classes include expertise from brand executives and franchisees, but students will also receive some Taco Bell Business School swag because, yeah, it's still Taco Bell.
But "swag" isn't the only free stuff students will get: Those accepted into the program will receive scholarships to cover the cost of the classes.
"Think of our Business School like a master class for breaking into the world of franchise ownership," Taco Bell CEO Mark King wrote on his Medium blog. "It'll be intense (i.e., a packed curriculum in only six weeks), but our students will gain insights into a viable and lucrative career option. Some program grads may decide that franchising isn't really for them, and that's quite alright."
So how do you get in? Well, step one, you have to already work for Taco Bell. The company says that candidates for the program are currently being sought out and encouraged to apply by higher-ups within the company. The brand says they are still in the midst of the application process and the inaugural class hasn't been finalized.
However, if you're currently not an employee but still have visions of becoming a Taco Bell grad in the future, all hope is not lost. In the announcement, Taco Bell said they "will continue to grow the program in the future and build a talent pipeline for strong field leadership."