By Rodney Bullard, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A, Inc., and Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation
Chick-fil-A, Inc. has a rich history of investing in the communities we serve. That dates back to our founding in 1946, when Truett Cathy worked 80-hour weeks preparing food for the factory workers from the nearby Ford plant, always welcoming them with a smile. He knew he had a greater purpose beyond meeting the physical need of hunger, and he wanted to make a broader impact on the community around him.
This was Truett's real passion. While some might point to the growth of Chick-fil-A, Inc. - now the third largest restaurant chain in the U.S. - as the legacy of the man who built Chick-fil-A, I believe Truett, if he were here today, would disagree. I believe he would say the millions of lives we've been able to positively impact through our business is his true legacy.
The impact of Chick-fil-A is first felt at the local level inside each of our 2,400+ restaurants. Each Chick-fil-A restaurant is a neighborhood gathering spot where people come together and share their lives. That is not by accident. We want our restaurants to be welcoming to all people and a safe place for every person who walks through the doors. We know the trials of life can weigh you down, but we want that moment when you step foot inside a Chick-fil-A restaurant to be one of peace and respite, where people can refill, recharge and enter back into the world with a full heart and full belly.
The second way we impact the community is by investing in the future of the thousands of Team Members who provide that welcoming smile and "my pleasure" attitude to our customers. For them, we provide a path to higher education through our scholarship program. Providing Team Member scholarships began in 1953 when Truett set a mayonnaise jar on his restaurant counter to collect donations to help Eddie White, a young Team Member at the time, attend college. Since then, we have invested more than $75 million to help Team Members achieve their educational dreams, including $15.3 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 Team Members in 2019.
It is also important that we try to make a positive impact on the world outside of Chick-fil-A. That too, starts at the local level as our Operators invest daily into their communities. The cumulative impact is immeasurable and is best told by the small stories we hear every day from customers and neighbors who have found a helping hand at their local Chick-fil-A.
As an organization, we want to ensure we are a good corporate citizen. As the executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, that is my charge. In 2012, Chick-fil-A, Inc. created the Chick-fil-A Foundation to expand Truett's vision and broaden our impact. The Chick-fil-A Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to lead the company's commitment to support youth.
We have tried to be as transparent as possible on who we give to and why we give, which we commit to continuing to do. This website is here for that reason and because we are proud of what we've been able to accomplish together with many amazing organizations.
Moving forward, with a continued eye on nourishing the potential in every child, we are narrowing our corporate giving to three critical needs facing children in our communities: education, homelessness and hunger. The Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen our giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in these areas. The Foundation is committed to investing in the building blocks for a healthy future by ensuring the youth in our communities have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and an education that prepares them for the world they will face.
You can read more about our 2020 giving on the Chick-fil-A Foundation Focus page. No amount of money will be enough to fix these problems for every child, but we won't let the enormity of the problems prohibit us from taking on the task.
Thank you to all of our incredible Operators and Team Members, our devoted corporate staff and, most importantly, you, our customers for making all of this possible.