McDonald’s delivers opportunities on a plate
McDONALD’S might be known for its burgers and fries but it has emerged as a generous provider of scholarships to young people. Last year, it established the Charlie Bell Scholarship for Future Leaders, in honour of a former McDonald’s chief executive who died of cancer in 2005.
Two Charlie Bell scholarships are given each year to people who have shown outstanding leadership qualities, one of which is reserved for a McDonald’s employee. The scholarships are worth $ 20,000 each. Significantly, the awards are not tied to study or research connected to the fast food business. For example, the scholarship for the employee was awarded to Ashlea White, from the Queensland regional centre of Caboolture. The scholarship has given her the opportunity to focus on her third- year studies in medical imaging at the University of Queensland, including practical work at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
Starting at the age of 15, she worked part- time as a crew member and trainer at the Bribie Interchange McDonald’s. However, a criterion for the award of the scholarship — in addition to academic achievement and future aspirations — is involvement in community activities. White had also worked as a Queensland youth councillor representing the Sunshine Coast and was a member of the Caboolture Shire Council’s youth advisory group, acting as an adviser on youth issues such as drugs and homelessness.
‘‘ Winning the Charlie Bell scholarship was a huge honour and a great thrill,’’ White says.
‘‘ Without it, I would have still done my studies but it would have been very difficult, with four hours of travel every day and other work to support myself.
‘‘ The support from McDonald’s meant that I could pay the HECS and move to Brisbane. It means I can produce quality work rather being an exhausted zombie.’’
White also received a $ 2500 McDonald’s Crew Scholarship, part of a program aimed at recognising and assisting employees who have achieved a balance between work, studies and community activities. She notes her younger brother, who also works at McDonald’s, has also received a crew scholarship.
Sixteen crew scholarships are available to young McDonald’s employees in each state every year.
‘‘ McDonald’s is criticised by some people, but as an employer they are extremely supportive, not just in scholarships but in things like giving
than time off for White says.
‘‘ And they do not use financial support to tie you to the company in any way. They’re willing to provide assistance to help you reach your best personal potential.’’
McDonald’s people resources director Frank McManus refers to the character of Charlie Bell, who worked his way up from a part- time counter worker to head of the global organisation, as the key to the company’s approach towards scholarships.
‘‘ He firmly believed in giving back to our employees and investing in their future through training and development,’’ McManus says. ‘‘ We
exams,’’ are fortunate enough to be able to provide investment in an individual’s personal growth away from the workplace, whether through the provision of the Charlie Bell Scholarship for Future Leaders, our employee education scholarships, or our sports grants.’’