Last week, the McDonald’s Golden Grants program returned for a fourth consecutive year with Atlanta area McDonald’s awarding $40,000 in grants to benefit local K-12 students across 33 counties.

Educators and individuals who represent programs and organizations that fuel the imagination, education and growth of students can apply for a Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Golden Grant. The program is funded by the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Owners Association and over the past two years has given $120,000 in grants to 27 different organizations across the Greater Atlanta Area.

This year’s program is going to award 12 grants in total.

One grant will be awarded in the amount of $20,000. Another grant will equal $10,000 with the other ten grants slated to award $1,000.

Anthony Greenwood, an owner operator and executive director of the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operator Association, says that the Golden Grants program was created to level the playing field in the Black community.

“There are way too many deficiencies that we found in the black community in terms of support for a lot of local schools and the programs that they try to implement in their school systems,” Greenwood said. “We want to help them and reach as many kids as possible.”

The grant is not just for the African American community as the goal to spread out for a number of schools covers multiple different ethnicities and people but the goal remains the same for the program, supporting kids.

According to Greenwood, the local McDonald’s are working to let their philanthropist side show more in the community, much like rival chain Chick-fil-a does already.

“It’s pretty hard,” Greenwood says of the difficulty in bringing eyes to their work in the community. “With the advent of social media, there’s so many “truths” that are spread and they take off like wildfire so this was a way of, you know how you’ve heard the rumors of McDonald’s and how we mistreat people and we do this and that and how it’s all about the dollars, but our philanthropist side is massive. It goes from the Ronald McDonald house all the way down to the Golden Grants and it goes farther than that. We have a lot of operators who work one-on-one in the schools they have around their restaurants.

“This was a way for us to really, as an entire group, push a message out to the community and say, ‘hey, all you have to do is apply.’ A lot of money is awarded that way,” he continued.

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic that saw much of the world shut down didn’t lead to the Golden Grants program suffering. Greenwood says it was crazy how many people looked to the Golden Grants program this past year.

“We even created a category for groups that were focused on doing things to help kids get through the pandemic,” Greenwood said. “So much was out there and so many people were home and brainstorming that we had more submissions than in previous years. In a year that we had COVID, which is absolutely insane.”

Strike for justice protesters rally outside a McDonald’s Monday, July 20, 2020, in Milwaukee. Thousands across the country walked off the job to protest systemic racism and economic inequality that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash)