Funds Support NRAEF’s Engagement Programs and Its Mission to Enhance the Stature of the Restaurant Industry

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Receives Donations From The Coca-Cola Company, Brinker International And Darden RestaurantsChicago, IL  (RestaurantNews.com)  The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today it received $950,000 in donations from The Coca-Cola Company, Brinker International, Inc. and Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation. The funds will support NRAEF’s various engagement programs, such as ProStart, and its mission to enhance the stature of the restaurant industry.

“We are incredibly grateful for these generous donations from such respected partners like The Coca-Cola Company, Brinker International and Darden Restaurants,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of philanthropic initiatives for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “It’s only through the support of our donors that we can help build a pipeline of talent and foster future leaders of the restaurant industry.”

The NRAEF received $450,000 from The Coca-Cola Company, the world’s largest beverage company with more than 500 brands.

“Coca-Cola is committed to helping shine a spotlight on the diverse careers available in the industry and to developing the talent needed to lead the restaurant industry into the future,” said Carlton Curtis, vice president of Industry Affairs, Foodservice & On-Premise Division of Coca-Cola Refreshments. “We are proud to partner with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation on all its programs and efforts to enhance the stature of the restaurant industry.”

“Brinker is dedicated to serving the communities that are home to our restaurants throughout the United States. Through our support of the Foundation and ProStart, we are helping to feed the dreams of high school students and provide them with a pathway to the future,” said Joe Taylor, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Brinker International, Inc.

A leader in the casual dining industry with locations in 33 countries and two territories, Brinker International donated $250,000 to the NRAEF.

Additionally, the Darden Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to the NRAEF. The Darden Foundation is the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, which owns and operates brands such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

“Darden stands for opportunity and fostering and creating opportunity for youth is important to us,” said Bob McAdam, Darden’s Senior Vice President of Government and Community Affairs. “Our support of the NRAEF and ProStart will create opportunity by enabling students to secure scholarships to continue their education and provide training opportunities for educators that are making a difference in the classroom every day.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, total restaurant and foodservice employment is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years. The NRAEF is committed to ensuring it supports the development of a highly-trained and professional talent pool through scholarships and educational programs such as ProStart, which brings the industry and the classroom together to give 95,000 students nationwide a platform to discover new interests and talents, while opening doors to fulfilling careers.

With national and local support from industry members, educators, the NRAEF and state restaurant associations, ProStart is taught in 1,700 schools. For more information on the ProStart program, visit NRAEF.org/ProStart or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF)’s goal is to enhance the stature of the restaurant industry. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees, making it one of the nation’s largest employers. The NRAEF’s focus is to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce and to create a more positive business climate for the restaurant industry. For more information on the NRAEF, visit NRAEF.org.

About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, our Company’s portfolio features 16 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of more than 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo or visit our blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com.

About Brinker International, Inc.

Brinker International Inc. is one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies. Founded in 1975 and based in Dallas, Texas, Brinker currently owns, operates, or franchises 1,593 restaurants under the names Chili’s® Grill & Bar (1,549 restaurants) and Maggiano’s Little Italy® (44 restaurants). Brinker also holds a minority investment in Romano’s Macaroni Grill®. For more information, visit www.brinker.com.

About Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation

The Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation is the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants, Inc. The Foundation’s mission is to maintain a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy as defining characteristics of Darden Restaurants. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $60 million in grants, with $7.2 million given in fiscal year 2012. The Darden Foundation carries out its mission by focusing philanthropic efforts and resources on the following program areas: Access to Postsecondary Education, Preservation of Natural Resources and Good Neighbor Grants. For more information, please visit www.dardenfoundation.com.

Contact:
Ashley Rodriguez
Fish Consulting
571-312-6174
arodriguez@fish-consulting.com

Megan Meyer
NRAEF
312-715-6741
mmeyer@nraef.org