Why Franchises Are Funding Their Employees' Education

Here's a hint: It's really good for business.

When a customer buys something at Taco Bell, they’re asked if they’d like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar. They’re told it helps support their employees’ education, but of course, that can seem abstract and perfunctory to someone just hungry for a chalupa. So when someone does round up their purchase at a Taco Bell in Bloomington, Ind., employee Megan Humphreys-Savell always makes a point of smiling and making it personal.

“I tell them, ‘Your donation helped me go to school,’ ” says Humphreys-Savell, 20. Those pennies have, among other things, helped contribute to a $25,000 scholarship she received through the franchise’s foundation; now she’s enrolled at the nearby Indiana University, majoring in arts education. “They’re definitely surprised,” she says of customers’ reactions. “I just don’t think they’d ever given it a second thought. I love to see their faces when I tell them that.”

Humphreys-Savell was in foster care from ages 12 to 14, when she was adopted by a family with three other children. A degree had always seemed financially out of reach, but she was determined. It’s why she originally took a job at Taco Bell -- though she had no idea about its education benefits. At the time, she was just trying to earn some cash to pay for classes at a local community college. Then she discovered she could

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