Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and Superintendent of Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE), announces that the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens has entered into a pilot partnership with SHCOE and ed2go in support of the “Commitment to Action” the education partners signed with the Clinton Global Initiative in July of this year.

Through this partnership, Taco Bell® will provide scholarships to enable employees to earn high school diplomas through Career Online High School (COHS), which was established by SHCOE and ed2go in 2012.

“What makes this inaugural ‘Commitment to Action’ partnership even more exciting is that actor Mark Wahlberg, who serves as ambassador for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, was on hand to share his personal story and award the first COHS scholarships when the partnership was announced at Taco Bell’s headquarters,” Dr. Liebman said.

Wahlberg, who dropped out of high school over 25 years earlier, recently earned his high school diploma via an online program.

“The greatest regret in my life is quitting school,” Wahlberg is quoted as saying. “I was lucky, but a lot of my friends who did the same ended up incarcerated or dead. Now I have a different perspective: that what’s cool in life is being a good person, and doing the right thing. I take any opportunity I can to speak to teens and encourage them, first and foremost, to graduate high school.”

“This is the first time since establishing COHS that we’ve experienced a media endorsement by someone of Mark Wahlberg’s status,” said Ron Stefanski, Chief Business Development Officer for ed2go. “This happened because of the powerful story behind COHS that led to our participation with the Clinton Global Initiative and has subsequently attracted visionary corporate partners such as Taco Bell. Mark Wahlberg is committed to promoting education, especially through the Taco Bell Teen Foundation, and he sees the potential that COHS has to expand educational opportunities for youth.”

Featuring coursework that is both self-directed and teacher-supported, COHS enables students to earn a high school diploma and a credentialed career certificate in one, comprehensive online program. One of the school’s newest career certificates—Food and Customer Service Skills—will be especially applicable to Taco Bell employees.

“Mark Wahlberg reminds us all that it is never too late to go back to school and earn your diploma,” said Taco Bell President Brian Niccol, who also serves as chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. “He is an inspiration to the Taco Bell leadership team to commit ourselves to doing everything we can to empower youth to do the same—starting with our own Team Members.”

About Taco Bell® Foundation for Teens™

Taco Bell Foundation Inc., also known as Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation committed to inspiring and enabling America’s teens to achieve “mas” through its programs, partnerships, and direct financial assistance. Every year, the Foundation serves more than 100,000 teens in more than 180 communities across the country and awards more than 300 grants and scholarships focused on education and career preparedness. Since 1992, the Foundation has awarded more than $42 million in support of more than 1,000 teen-serving organizations in the U.S. through customer, franchisee, employee and vendor-partner donations. For more information visit tacobellforteens.org, and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TacoBell4Teens.

About ed2go

Cengage Learning is a leading educational content, software and services company for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. Ed2go, a division of Cengage Learning, is the industry leader in online learning for adults. The company provides high-quality, affordable online continuing education courses through a network of over 2,000 top colleges and universities. Established in 1997, ed2go is the single largest provider of online adult continuing education with over 2,000,000 students enrolled in various courses. For more information visit www.ed2go.com.