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A Celebration of Scholars

July 17, 2014

By: Omar Lopez, Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse

A Celebration of Scholars

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As part of our commitment to give back to our communities and our core value of "Always Learning, Always Teaching," Darden supports the Hispanic Scholarship Fund through scholarships and academic support programs to help Hispanic students enroll in and graduate from college. More than two-thirds of Hispanic Scholarship Fund students, who receive financial resources, are first generation and low-income. These students achieve an 80% college graduation rate versus the national average of 57%.

This year, the Darden Foundation awarded scholarships to 40 Latino students across the country through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. I am very proud of these students and my company’s support of them. To help celebrate the students’ hard work and accomplishments, my restaurant in Snellville, Georgia, hosted a celebration dinner for the 10 scholarship recipients and their families in the Atlanta area.

We presented each student with his or her scholarship certificate, a handwritten note and a LongHorn Steakhouse knife set. The students and their families seemed very excited to be there. My team members in the restaurant were also very excited and honored to be able to be part of the event. The whole team pitched in to make sure every detail was taken care of and that the guests of honor had memorable evenings. My Director of Operations and our Regional Vice President also attended to congratulate the students.

About 30 guests attended the event, so I got to know the scholars and their families. I was very impressed by the students. One is even going to Yale next year! Seeing the gratitude and happiness from the people we hosted was so rewarding. Being able to give back and help others truly is one of the best parts of our business.

Some of my colleagues at Olive Garden are hosting similar events for other scholarship recipients in other areas of the country. Our support of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund is through Darden’s Recipe for Success® initiative to provide tools and resources for low-income students. For more on this initiative, visit the Darden Foundation website.

By: Omar Lopez, Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse

Pictured: (From left to right) LongHorn Steakhouse Managing Partner Omar Lopez, Louis Conde, Rebecca Leibowitz, Abril Castro, Karina Barrientos, Araceli Cortes, Brandon Santos, LongHorn Steakhouse Director of Operations Crystal Santana, LongHorn Steakhouse Regional Vice President John Alexander

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