For those who believe working in a fast-food restaurant is a dead-end job, franchisee Max Cooper is using his 46 Birmingham, Alabama-area McDonald's restaurants to prove them wrong. Cooper offers his student employees college scholarships through a program he established in 1992.
The scholarship program offers $1,000 to high school seniors and college students who work an average of 20 hours a week for at least 12 months and maintain at least a C+ grade-point average. Cooper awarded 19 scholarships in 1994 and about 40 in 1995.
"We're hoping it'll give the kids the incentive to work a little harder, to have earned something for themselves," Cooper says.
Parents can help their kids through the program, too; scholarships are doubled for students whose parents also work for one of Cooper's restaurants. "It's a delight to see them," Cooper says of the two mothers who are taking advantage of the scholarship program. "They're so enthusiastic about what they're doing."
The former McDonald's executive stops short of saying college-bound students make better employees, but, he says, "It appears that people with that commitment and dedication are good at everything they do."