Dvon Holland
Boys & Girls Clubs of America Launches Diplomas to Degrees Program to Prepare High School Teens for Higher Education
Toyota Financial Services and Darden Restaurants, Inc., partner to lead the effort in supporting college readiness

(May 7, 2013) – Washington D.C.  – Boys & Girls Clubs of America, along with partners Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and the Darden Restaurants, today announced the launch of a college readiness initiative, Diplomas to Degrees (d2D), which will support academic success and improve high school graduation rates for teens.

The announcement was made at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, where Club teens from the Washington, D.C., region were joined by volunteers from Toyota Financial Services and Darden Restaurants, Inc., to paint a mural of a “dream board” created by renowned artist Charles Jean-Pierre. The mural showcases a young person’s race from “diplomas to degrees,” providing inspiration for all youth to pursue their dreams.

“Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide are committed to combatting the high school dropout crisis. Our hope is to increase the number of teen Club members, especially from minority ethnic groups, who enroll in a college or university,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO at BGCA.  “With the help of partners like Toyota and Darden, we have the opportunity to provide targeted programs, like Diplomas to Degrees, for teens through a key transition period between high school and college, improving the outlook for our nation and securing more great futures for our youth.”

Studies have shown that high school graduates who are not prepared to obtain a postsecondary education are less likely to gain full access to our country’s economic, political, and social opportunities.  Therefore, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its partners are dedicated to ensuring Club members receive the support needed to succeed in their academic careers and in life.

“We all know how important it is for today’s youth to find those open doors to life’s opportunities,” says Mike Groff, senior vice president of Sales, Marketing and Product Development for TFS Americas Region.  “But education is the key that unlocks those doors.  Toyota is proud to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Darden Restaurants, and provide the encouragement and support which will inspire youth to enrich their lives and seize every opportunity available to them.”

Diplomas to Degrees is an intensive college readiness program that helps provide the tools, resources, and support Boys & Girls Club teens need to better prepare them for the transition from high school students to college graduates. The program is designed to help youth develop short and long-term goals; explore post-secondary institutions to familiarize themselves with the college lifestyle; pursue and secure essential financial assistance; and foster supportive relationships with caring adults who can provide ongoing advice and mentorship throughout their academic experience.

“Darden stands for opportunity – inside our restaurants but also in every community we serve,” said Bob McAdam, senior vice president of Government and Community Affairs for Darden. “We are proud to announce our commitment to Diplomas to Degrees as part of our signature Recipe for Success™ program that looks to empower youth and provide greater access to post-secondary education, which means greater opportunity for the new class of 21st century leaders.”

Piloted in ten cities over the past year, Diplomas to Degrees will now be available in more than 1,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

For more information, visit www.greatfutures.org. In addition, teens can access d2D information and resources on BGCA's teen website, www.myclubmylife.com/d2D.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,000 Clubs serve some 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.
About Toyota Financial Services
Toyota Financial Services (TFS) is the finance and insurance brand for Toyota and Lexus in the U.S., offering retail auto financing and leasing through Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) and Toyota Lease Trust and extended service contracts and other payment protection products through Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMIS). TFS employs 3,300 associates nationwide, and has managed assets totaling more than $93.1 billion.  It is part of a worldwide network of comprehensive financial services offered by Toyota Financial Services Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation.For more information, please visit www.toyotafinancial.com.

About Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,000 restaurants that generate over $8.0 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 190,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

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