Why I Love the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program
Friends and family often tell me that I have a pretty great job. I get to promote Wendy’s® latest menu offerings (read: hamburgers, Frosty® desserts, salads and fries), I contribute to brand-building awareness activities, and I feel fortunate to be given a platform to give back by participating in events that raise money and awareness for children in foster care.
So, yes…I agree…I have a pretty great job.
But there’s one project that I work on at Wendy’s that I’m particularly passionate about, and that’s Wendy’s High School Heisman®.
...and it’s not because I get to rub shoulders with some of the best current and former college football players. But hey, it doesn’t hurt.
Let me back up. A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on National Student Athlete Day in order to set some context about how Wendy’s High School Heisman got its start. You can brush up on your Wendy’s Heisman history here, but basically, I shared that Dave Thomas started the program back in 1994 because he wanted to honor high school student-athletes who were “doing the right thing” – getting an education, serving as a role model and leader, and earning high academic marks.
So what drives my passion for this program more than other things I get to work on?
As terribly corny as it sounds, I’m proud of Wendy’s (the company and our franchisees that fund the program) for putting a stake in the ground and keeping this long-held commitment to recognize and celebrate outstanding high school student-athletes.
And I really value how the award is structured. We recognize thousands of students, and it begins at the school level on up to state finalists, state winners and national finalists. Young men and women are evaluated on three pillars of the high school experience: academics, athletics and community leadership. We strive to promote the triple threats….the leaders of tomorrow….the kids who are truly committed and know that no amount of effort that they put in is considered unreasonable.
Wendy’s has been sustaining this program for a long time, but like the students we recognize, our team is committed to continuous improvement. Each year in our off-season (aka January – June) we make enhancements to the Wendy’s Heisman program, but this year, we made two huge strides.
First, it’s now officially a college scholarship program.
We worked out a way to be able to keep our three award pillars in place yet not risk eligibility for the many students who are pursuing college athletics. We will award college scholarships beginning at the State Winner level ($1,000) on up to the National Winner level ($10,000). You can learn more about the rules and regs, here.
Second, we’ve made the application much faster to complete.
How? I’m glad you asked. We split it into two parts. Students input their cred as it relates to academics, athletics and extracurricular activities by October 3. Then, they can log back in and complete a couple essays by October 24.
We do ask students to send their application to a school admin or teacher in order to verify everything (aside from the essays) is correct. More or less, it’s a second set of eyes. That review has to be done by October 4.
Students, a word of advice, be a pal and give your teacher enough time to give your application a good review.
So if you are or know a high school senior who seems to operate on a different level of accomplishment, I encourage you/him/her to apply. Not only is this a chance at a scholarship for college, but we also dish out Wendy’s gift cards, medals and special recognition that looks great on college and internship applications.
Oh, and the top ten (+ families) get an all-expense paid trip to NYC during Heisman weekend for a whirlwind of fun.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get going…
PS - Check out our 2015 national finalists in the below video to see the top students we honored last year in NYC. We sent a film crew to tape their profiles which aired on ESPN. No big deal.
A note from our lawyers:
The Wendy's name and design and the Wendy's High School Heisman and design are trademarks of Quality Is Our Recipe, LLC. The Heisman Memorial Trophy, Heisman name and Heisman Trophy figure are registered trademarks of the Heisman Trophy Trust, used with permission.