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Students Awarded Scholarships to Culinary Institute of America at 41st Annual NAACP ACT-SO Competition Sponsored by Sodexo

Sodexo Partnership with NAACP ACT-SO and Culinary Institute of America Provides High School Students Opportunity to Further Interest in Culinary Arts Education

Students Awarded Scholarships to Culinary Institute of America at 41st Annual NAACP ACT-SO Competition Sponsored by Sodexo

Sodexo Partnership with NAACP ACT-SO and Culinary Institute of America Provides High School Students Opportunity to Further Interest in Culinary Arts Education

Published 08-01-19

Submitted by Sodexo

 Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company committed to improving Quality of Life, and NAACP ACT-SO (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics), a major youth initiative of the NAACP that is a year-long achievement program, awarded top culinary competition students scholarships to attend the Culinary Institute of America. Gold medal winners from local competitions tested their skills against peers during the 41st Annual National NAACP ACT-SO competition and awards ceremony held in Detroit, Michigan July 18 - July 21.

ACT-SO was designed to identify, encourage, reward and showcase the academic and artistic achievements of high school students of African descent. ACT-SO provides students with an opportunity to work with professionals in their area of interest.

Students receive mentoring and coaching from Sodexo chefs to create and develop individual projects for local competitions. Sodexo and ACT-SO have had a long-standing partnership since 2009 when the idea to develop the Culinary Arts Competition Category was initiated. It nourishes the culinary talent among high school students, from inner-city schools nationwide. In 2015 Sodexo was approached by ACT-SO to support them in adding a Hospitality category. These students build a team of three or four and develop a business plan on a new concept related to Hospitality.

ACT-SO has impacted thousands of students nationwide. “Each year we look forward to working with the many talented high school students interested in the culinary arts and hospitality fields. With the support of our leadership and mentoring efforts of Sodexo chefs we strive to create opportunities for students to challenge themselves to express the best of their talent” said Sodexo VP of Global Diversity and Inclusion Lourdes Diaz. “In partnership with CIA and NAACP ACT-SO, we are able to nurture an ongoing relationship among the students and inform them about all of the career opportunities they can enjoy within our company- nationally and internationally.”

Approximately 200 programs are sustained by ACT-SO nationally, providing a platform for professional and educational enrichment that has proven to be an impactful model for creating a pipeline to successful careers.

Sodexo partners with the Culinary Institute of America to provide scholarships to winning students. To date, more than $300,000 in scholarships and educational credit have been awarded to culinary and hospitality students.


2019 NAACP ACT-SO Competition Winners






Kelise Tyler

Olathe East High School


NAACP Kansas City Chapter

Tionne Marks

Victoria Matson

Kamille Johnson

Talor Brisco

Westside High School


Project name: Mad Batter

NAACP Houston Chapter


Leslie Montenegro  

Bladensburg High School


NAACP Prince George’s County Chapter

Zion Hawkins

St. Michaels Archangel High School


Neymara Freeman

Summer Academy of Arts & Science


Taylor Drummer

Lincoln College Preparatory School


Trevell Walker

Blue Springs South High School


Project name: Paws and Claws

NAACP Kansas City Chapter


Mylesha McCardell

Northside High School


NAACP Houston Chapter





About Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. The company employs 150,000 people at 13,000 sites in all 50 U.S. states and Canada and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $9.2 billion in goods and services from small to large American businesses. Sodexo is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion and safety, while upholding the highest standards of corporate responsibility and ethical business conduct. In support of local communities across the U.S., the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed close to $32 million over the past 20 years to help feed children in America impacted by hunger. To learn more about Sodexo, visit and connect with us on FacebookInstagramLinkedInTwitter and YouTube

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Sodexo, Inc. ( ) is a leading integrated facilities management services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with $7.7 billion (USD) in annual revenue and 120,000 employees. Sodexo serves more than ten million customers daily in corporations, health care, long term care and retirement centers, schools, college campuses, government, and remote sites. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., is a member of Sodexo Group, and funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation ( ), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $11 million in grants to fight hunger in America.

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