The Irvine-based Taco Bell Foundation Tuesday opened its sixth annual Live Mas Scholarship application period, with more than $7.5 million in scholarships available for 16- to 26-year-old students, of which $2 million is set aside for Taco Bell team members.

“The pandemic has caused financial strain for families around the country, yet young people’s passions haven’t gone away,” said Jennifer Bradbury, interim executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation.

“We are hopeful that this year’s scholarships will provide many creative, passionate fans and Taco Bell team members opportunities they may not have otherwise had,” she said. “We are also proud to continue expanding our partnerships and resources to ignite change and create a better future for our scholars as they make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

The Live Mas scholarship “is geared toward students who are community-focused, driven by purpose and maybe even a little rebellious sometimes,” according to a statement issued by the foundation, which asks applicants only to submit a two-minute video “describing your passion, a positive change you want to make in the world and how your education will help you achieve that goal.”

The program’s administrators say the scholarship does not require students to submit grades, essays or test scores, and the funds are applicable to multiple education paths, including community colleges and trade schools.

The application period will close on Jan. 20, and winners will be announced in May.

The awards will be up to $25,000 per student. The Taco Bell Foundation will award $2 million to Taco Bell team members, including new and renewal scholarships (additional funds available for those who have won in the past), and $5.5 million to new and renewal scholarships for young people nationwide.

Recent scholarship recipients include a teen who created a high school curriculum on food justice and taught Atlanta students about chronic hunger within communities of color; a 17-year-old who launched her own small business encouraging kids and teens to cook, won an episode of “Chopped Junior” and was featured in the September 2019 issue of Food Network magazine; and a three-time Live Mas Scholar who is pursuing her passion for art through costume design, special effects makeup and painting.

For more information about the Taco Bell Foundation, visit www.tacobellfoundation.org.

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