McDonald’s USA, through its Black & Positively Golden movement, surprised its Future 22 leaders with $10,000 each, totaling $220,000, during a celebratory event in their honor at the Essence Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola. These grants were awarded to help further the community-driven causes of these 22 change leaders, introduced earlier this year. Award-winning actress, singer & entertainer, Keke Palmer, took part in the surprise announcement as the Future 22 spokesperson, according to a press release.
“It’s an honor to join McDonald’s to recognize and celebrate these awesome leaders, while also supporting their work and mission,” Palmer said in the press release. “They are creating bright futures for themselves and the next generation — and, really, all of us — and the excitement on their faces during the McDonald’s surprise gave me joy.”
During the event in New Orleans, Palmer and Marissa Fischer, a second-generation McDonald’s owner/operator, participated in a fireside chat moderated by McDonald’s Senior Director of Cultural Engagement Elizabeth Campbell to inspire Future 22 leaders and provide tips on staying true to one’s mission, finding balance while changing the world and paving the way for others, among other topics.
“This year’s Essence Fest theme was Black Joy, and we couldn’t wait to celebrate all 22 leaders and bring them to New Orleans, in honor of their accomplishments,” Campbell said in the release. “We certainly could’ve surprised them virtually but making them a part of our Essence Fest moment meant unlocking the additional community of supporters who are McDonald’s owner/operators and the Essence Fest family, to further celebrate them and demonstrate our belief in their work. It was more special than imagined, representing our commitment to feeding and fostering the communities we serve.”
McDonald’s owns and operates 13,500 U.S. restaurants, of which 95% are owned and operated by independent business owners.