Change Agents Invade Austin for 2016 Service Summit

602925_490465_1475042553335Who are Coca-Cola Scholars? Maybe “high-achieving students selected as high school seniors to receive a college scholarship.” But it’s more than that. They’re change agents – consistently putting their community first, leading by example, and serving others.

With that in mind, 80 Scholars, alumni, spouses, and CCSF staff came together for a weekend in Austin, Texas, with one mission: make an impact.

The focus was on service — reenergizing and inspiring Coke Scholars to continue their commitment to positively impact their communities as everyday change agents. The weekend of inspiring speakers and projects to refresh Zavala Elementary did just that.

“The idea is to have them come back here, be together, connect with each other, and remind themselves of the importance of service,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, Executive Vice President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.


“We’re very proud of their accomplishments, not only personally, but keeping up their commitment to give back to the community. Coca-Cola’s always been focused on giving back, and Coca-Cola Scholars embody that attitude,” said Morris Smith, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for Coca-Cola North America.

Day 1

Friday, September 23, focused on public policy, featuring several inspiring speakers, including:

  • Veronica Chapa Gorczynski, Executive Director of Early Matters
  • Mandy Chapman Semple, Special Advisor to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives for the City of Houston
  • Abby Livingston, Washington Bureau Chief of the Texas Tribune
  • Erin Muffoletto Baca, 2003 Scholar and President of Muffoletto Government Relations, LLC

The day concluded with a mayoral panel, during which the Honorable Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin; and the Honorable Annise Parker, Former Mayor of Houston, shared their insights as city leaders. Their panel was moderated by Marc Eichenbaum, 2000 Scholar and Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homelessness Initiatives for the city of Houston.


“A key message from today is that a lot of change is very local. And that doesn’t mean that it is a smaller problem to solve or an easier problem to solve, but that’s where it impacts individuals in their lives. People are affected in their neighborhoods, in their homes, and in their schools,” said Aaron Chadbourne, 2002 Coca-Cola Scholar and Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the Governor for State of Maine.

Day 2

Saturday was spent painting, mulching, writing thank you cards, and overall refreshing Austin’s Zavala Elementary School with United Way for Greater Austin. Zavala Elementary held special significance for 1991 Coca-Cola Scholar Tim McCallum because it is here he went to school. Tim generously cooked lunch for the whole group involved in the service day.

“Having grown up and becoming a Coke Scholar, and a father, and a husband, and to come back to place that you worked so hard, to get out of a neighborhood, only to find yourself wanting to come back and give back – my family would have been very proud,” Tim McCallum, said 1991 Coca-Cola Scholar and President and CEO of Raze Media.


To celebrate the end of the project, Scholars surprised Zavala’s principal with backpacks, clothes, and a $1,500 donation for books from My Own Book, an organization created by 2006 Scholar Kyle Baldwin.

“It just makes us feel so special and loved that people who don’t know us, don’t know the students, took time out of their busy lives, their busy schedules, away from their family and friends, to come here and help improve our school,” said Nicole Anderson, Principal of Zavala Elementary School.

Day 3

Attendees headed to University of Texas at Austin’s Alumni Center for an opening session with Daron Roberts, 1991 Scholar and Founding Director at the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation. Daron inspired Scholars to “start where they are” and make change happen today.


Kevin Byrne, Managing Director of US Programs of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Julie Gehrki, 1997 Scholar and Senior Director of the Walmart Foundation, and Jane Hale Hopkins, Executive Vice President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, discussed effective philanthropy in organizations.

Adan Gonzalez, founder of the Si Se Puede Network, followed, and shared more about the founding of his organization, which helps to provide advice to students to work for academic success, encourage volunteering, and helps people grow into leadership positions.

Scholars ended the conference by making service pledges that would impact their community once they return home.


“We don’t want to just serve the community, but we want to inspire others to also make a change,” Rima Patel, 2013 Coca-Cola Scholar, said.

The 2016 Coca-Cola Service Summit in Austin is the second event of its kind — the first Service Summit was held in Miami the year before. The event is an initiative of the Coca-Cola Scholars Alumni Advisory Board, who looks forward to hosting Service Summits annually.

CCSF Launches Coaching Pilot

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The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is excited to launch a Coke Scholars Coaching pilot project this year for randomly selected first-year Scholars. After almost a year of developing a model with the Center for Creative Leadership, several alumni volunteers along with all Foundation staff members were trained to learn how to support Scholars as they transition to college, explore engagement opportunities on their campuses, and set and work towards a personal goal.

The Coaching experience will strive to make the Coca-Cola Scholars Program experience special, provide meaningful personal and professional development for both the Coaches and Coachees, and strengthen the undergraduate Scholars’ connections to the Coca-Cola Scholar network. After this initial year, CCSF anticipates refining the program and expanding for the 2017 Scholars to support Scholars as they launch into their college journeys.

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In addition to the CCSF staff, the alumni Coaches are Angela Harrell (1991), Anita Kishore (1995), Jamie Lathan (1996), Albert Lawrence (2003), Christina Marshall-Valdez (2001), Nekeisha Randall (2004), Samorn Selim (2000), Joe Semsar (2005), and Sarah Williams (2011).

Jane Hopkins Named Executive Vice President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation


Jane Hopkins has grace beyond measure. She has shown us how to be our best selves under pressure, and how to build and support our colleagues through inspiring leadership.

That leadership has led to her recent election by our Board of Directors as the Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation’s Executive Vice President.

In this role, Jane sits at the center of all of our work. She has direct responsibility for our strategic initiatives and is tasked with oversight of communications, operations, and finance. She is also directly involved in the execution of our scholarship programs. There are no aspects of the Coca‑Cola Scholars Foundation that she does not have influence over. We are truly blessed to have her with us.

Jane’s career with CCSF began in 2001 when she relocated from New York City to Atlanta to become our Finance Manager. She was directly responsible for our accounting, finance, investment reporting, taxes, and human resources.

Then, in 2006, she was elected as Vice President of Finance. She soon expanded her skill set by earning an Executive MBA from Emory University. She has utilized many of those skills in her work – particularly in leading and executing our strategic planning process. In addition to Emory, Jane also holds degrees from Centre College (BA, Government & History) and New York University (MPA, Policy Analysis).

She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Scholarship Providers Association and is frequently asked to speak to groups about planning and executing strategic initiatives. She has also served on the board of the Empty Stocking Fund and Emerge.

Jane demonstrates great leadership and superb judgment in all of her interactions with Scholars, alumni, Coca-Cola colleagues, and the scholarship and philanthropy arenas. I hope you have a chance to meet her and work with her.



J. Mark Davis

President, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

Scholar Alumna Joins Board of Directors

TSue Suhhe Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s Board of Directors is excited to welcome Sue Suh, a 1992 Coca-Cola Scholar, as the newest addition to the Board. Sue is Chief Talent Officer at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City. Previously, Sue served with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense in Washington DC, New York, and Tripoli, Libya – managing issues such as nuclear nonproliferation, UN sanctions, public affairs, and overall U.S.-UN relations. She is passionate about the positive impact of the performing arts and sports on communities around the world, and sits on the Boards of the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Special Olympics Asia Pacific. Sue absolutely loved Princeton University (Politics BA) and Columbia University (Political Science MA), and was so grateful to earn a Fulbright award to South Korea and a Presidential Management Fellowship with the U.S. federal government. Sue is a former member of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s Alumni Advisory Board. Currently, she is also pursuing a PhD with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and she is a big fan of the NY Mets and her husband Chad.

Journey: 2016 Scholars Weekend

Follow the 28th class of Coca-Cola Scholars as they traveled to Atlanta for the 2016 Scholars Weekend! Watch this video that opened our Scholars Banquet on March 31, 2016, created by Mud Mile.

These incredible 150 high school seniors were selected from applicants across the country to receive a $20,000 college scholarship. They are true visionary leaders who are refreshing the world through their passion to make the world a better place.

See the full listing of our 2016 Scholars.

10 Questions for CCSF’s New Director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is excited to announce that Jamie Williams has joined the staff as Director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program, the first position of its kind at the Foundation. This new role is dedicated to maintaining the energy, excitement, and connectivity of Scholars Weekend through each Scholar’s college years by creating unique opportunities for them to engage with the Foundation and each other.

Previously serving as Director of the National Scholars Program and Associate Director of the Honors College at Clemson University, Jamie brings 15 years of experience administering enrichment programs for undergraduate scholars, mentoring high-achieving students, and collaborating with stakeholders to support student success to the Foundation.

As part of Jamie’s first day at CCSF, we asked our intern and 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar, Paul Serrato, to grill him with some pretty tough questions! Read on to learn more about the newest member of the Coca-Cola Scholars team.


Paul: What is the first thing people should know about you?

Jamie: (chuckles) A minute and a half of dead air! … I think in terms of what I do, my profession, is that I love working with students. I was a fairly high-achieving undergraduate student and didn’t really see that as a career choice, or didn’t know that was a career choice, until I got to my later part of college and really wanted to stay in college for the rest of my life, working with that population of students. I really like working with students who are motivated, have a goal, like working towards that goal, and enjoy working with others, and that’s the thing that’s most intriguing about this position with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation – working with students who are similarly motivated. I feel like I’ll be working with 600 mini-mes who are working towards their own professional, personal, and leadership goals.

Paul: Why did you want to work at the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation?

Jamie: To fuel my addiction to Diet Coke! No, I’ve known Mark for about 15 years and got to know some of the other staff last year though a professional organization. They are a good group of people, and I could see myself fitting in with them personality wise. It was a good opportunity at the right time for a career change. I had been at Clemson for 14 years working with a scholars program and with honors college students, and I was ready for the next phase of my career. This way I am still working with college students. My life won’t be as divided into semesters as it has been for the last 20 years of my career, but instead I’ll have a broader canvas on which to work and to have an impact on advising and helping students make leadership and professional development connections and decisions as they go forward.

Paul: Could you tell us about your vision for your new position as Director of Undergraduate Programming and what this programming entails?

Jamie: The second part is going to be easy because I don’t know – I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. My vision is to make sure that there are plenty opportunities for current college Scholars to be able to connect with each other based on where they are in school, their majors, what their career 2015-08-10 15.39.56goals are, in addition to working with the rest of the staff and alumni to help them make good decisions and provide a strong mentoring network along the way. I think some of the best things that alumni can share with current Scholars are lessons they’ve learned the hard way or mistakes that they’ve made so that younger Scholars can avoid those similar mistakes and be further along the path by the time they graduate than maybe those alumni were at the time. The challenge of it is going to be that the Scholars themselves are obviously all over the country, and it’s not a matter of “We’re having a meeting tonight! Everybody come to this room and you’ll get pizza.” So I think finding out ways, like using the portal that’s in development, to make sure that we can build those connections. The way that’s going to work? I’m going to be calling on alumni and current Scholars to ask them: “What do you think we should be doing to support your leadership and professional development? What were your expectations of being chosen as a Coca-Cola Scholar? What can we do to help you meet those expectations?”  None of you are going to schools where you’re going to be in desperate need of mentoring. You’re going to good schools that have that. So what is the value added of being a Coca-Cola Scholar in terms of when you graduate you will not be just a Stanford graduate or a Harvard graduate or a UNC graduate, but a Coca-Cola Scholar graduate from those schools. So the first year I’m going to do a listening tour, which might be by email, phone calls, Skype, or in-person meetings, but getting Scholar feedback about what we should be doing. So you, the Scholars, get to tell me what to do basically. Don’t get carried away.

Paul: You’re at the 2018 Leadership Summit, and you have 7 hours to memorize 700 scholar names. How do you begin?

Jamie: Why haven’t I gotten the names before 7 hours? Okay, hazing – Coke Scholar hazing. Well, one of the things that I did when I was in high school, and I was valedictorian so it clearly worked, was that I put my notes under my pillow when I slept the night before a big test. Usually what I do too is in my previous roles working with scholars and honors recruits is that I do a lot of Facebook and Twitter stalking to get some names and faces together. Figuring out not just their names but where they’re from, what they think their major is going to be, what are some interesting things that they’ve done, and so get to know them as individuals and people and not just names on a list. But if I’ve got just the 7 hours, I’ll be spending just as much time with the A through B names, and then take a little bit of a break, and then the D through F names, take a bit of a break, so I’ll use a number of tactics to get the number of names down. But I’m hoping I’ll have more than those 7 hours. Unless there’s something I don’t know about. What have I gotten myself into here?

Paul: How long does it take you to scroll through Facebook before giving up?

Jamie: I’ve been on Facebook for—how long has Facebook been around—I have yet to give up! Are we Facebook friends yet? I know that they keep saying Facebook is going out. Twitter is the way it is, and Instagram, the Snapchat, and then hooziwhatzit, whatever it’s going to be next, but Facebook seems to me to be a fundamental communication tool. I gave it up a few years ago for Lent mainly out of spite because people didn’t think I could do it. And so some friends created a Facebook group called “I do not believe Jamie Williams can stay off of Facebook for the entirety of Lent”, and my boss created a group “I do believe that Jamie Williams can stay off.” Not only did I stay off the entirety of Lent, I stayed off one extra day, just again out of spite. That is when I got hooked on Twitter. I needed to refresh and see new words.

Paul: Who was the first Coke Scholar you met?

PaulJamie: I advised an honors college student at Clemson named Kate Gasparro, and she’s the first that I first got to know well. I’m sure I’ve gotten to know another Coke Scholar, but Kate was probably the one that I know most well and advise and feel like I had a very good advisory, mentor connection with as an undergrad. I met her 6 years ago. I’m sure if I went through the list, I would find myself saying,“Oh yeah, I knew that person.” You know a lot of times people don’t like to say “I’m a Coke Scholar” because they don’t want to seem like they’re bragging. I’m sure that I’ve met some, but I didn’t know that they were Coke Scholars.


[Editor’s note: An hour post-interview, Jamie noted that Matt Clemmens was indeed the first Coca-Cola Scholar he had met. So thorough!]

Paul: You are planning a birthday party at the office for one of your co-workers. What kind of cake do you bring?

Jamie: Well, first I would have to find out if there were any allergies, any kind of gluten issues unless the office and staff find out surreptitiously from others in the staff what flavors do they like. Ice cream cake versus not. My favorite kind of cake is anything with a good buttercream frosting.

Paul: What is your superpower?

Jamie: What is it now or what I wish it were to be? What am I able to do? I have an ability, an infinite ability to recall things that just don’t matter. So I’m a good bar trivia partner to have. I was people’s phone-a-friend on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” because I can remember who won like best supporting actress Oscar in 1983, those kind of things. Not real life. The one I wish I had probably was telepathy just so when you’re having conversations you can be more efficient and get to the point and figure out what the person is wanting from you. So telepathy, I think, would be a great superpower to have.

Paul: What is your favorite Coke product and why?

Jamie: I think Diet Coke. I don’t know why on that one. It’s just delicious! Although I have started getting into Coke Zero a little bit when traveling abroad this past year. Diet Coke or Coke Light tastes different in Europe and in Africa, where I’ve been recently, than Diet Coke tastes in the States. But Coke Zero abroad tastes like Diet Coke here, and I’ve done some transitive reverse properties, so that Coke Zero tastes good to me here. So I like Coke Zero, it’s kind of gaining on Diet Coke for me right now.

Paul: Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Coke Scholar community?

Jamie: I’m looking forward to getting to know as many of alumni and Scholars as possible, and if anybody has a great idea or something they think we should be doing, don’t hesitate to call me or email me or Tweet me. If you want to Facebook friend me, I’m open to that. I’m not saying that just because that’s what you say at a new job; I really want to get the feedback from Scholars and alumni as well to figure out how I can do my job to support you and your paths to success.


Coca-Cola Announces New Selection Process of 150 $20,000 Scholarship Winners

In 1986, the Coca-Cola System announced the establishment of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation to shape a better future for the communities in which we do business through the support of exceptionally talented high school seniors’ aspirations for higher education. As we celebrate the Foundation’s 25th Class this year, we acknowledge that it has been our good fortune to have invested more than $50 million in 5,250 students who represent the most promising qualities of American youth throughout this country: academic excellence, positive leadership and a dedication to service. These students have a vision for positive change that is truly shaping a better future for our world and leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.

To invest all we can in our Scholars, Coca-Cola remains committed to keeping our scholarships meaningful and relevant. Over the last 10 years, the cost of education at a four year institution has increased dramatically. We recognize the impact of this change and the evolving financial aid needs of students today.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, we will modify our selection process to award 150 Coca-Cola Scholars at $20,000 scholarship each, totaling $3 million in scholarship awards each year. This is an increase of 100 $20,000 scholarship winners from previous years. These 150 Coca-Cola Scholars will travel to Atlanta to celebrate and commend the noble impact they have already had in their communities. This commitment will support Scholars as they build better communities and, over time, a better world. It is our privilege to serve these young leaders.

Q & A

How is the selection process changing?
The initial online application and the Semifinalist process will remain the same. The online application will yield 2,000 Semifinalists who will be asked to complete an additional Semifinalist application. A reading committee made up of college admissions counselors and high school college advisors will review each application and select 250 Regional Finalists.  Each of the 250 Regional Finalists will then be asked to take part in a regional interview.  These Regional Finalists will be evaluated based on both the interview and the Semifinalist application, and 150 Coca-Cola Scholars will be selected to receive a $20,000 scholarship and travel to Atlanta to attend Scholars Weekend.

Why the change?
The cost of college has increased dramatically over the past ten years.  In an effort to keep our scholarships relevant, we are increasing the number of $20,000 scholarship winners by 100 recipients.  The Coca-Cola system believes that investing in students who are leaders, both academically and in service to others, will result in positive, lasting change and sustainable communities.  Awarding all Coca-Cola Scholars $20,000 will develop a cohesive cohort of positive change agents and visionary leaders.

What will the regional interviews be like?
Once a student is designated a Regional Finalist, an invitation will be sent to schedule a regional interview.  Depending on where the student is located, the interview will be in person or via web conference.  To leverage the great resource and asset of our past scholarship recipients, we are excited to announce that Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni will be conducting these regional interviews with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation staff.  This will also extend the selection process into the communities served by Coca-Cola bottlers and it will further enhance bottler investment in their communities.

What is happening to the former regional scholarships?
All Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards will now be raised to the $20,000 level.

2013-14 Timeline

August 2013 Online Application Opens
October 31 Online Application Deadline
Mid-November Semifinalists Notified
December 27 Semifinalist Application Deadline
Mid-January 2014 Regional Finalists Notified
Late January – Early February Regional Interviews
Late February Coca-Cola Scholars Notified
April 3-5 Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend in Atlanta


2013 Banquet Celebrates 25th Class of Coca-Cola Scholars

Our annual tradition of celebrating and welcoming the new class of Coca-Cola Scholars was held last week. The 2013 Banquet featured renowned journalist Tom Brokaw as an honored guest and the Keynote Speaker. Here are a few videos from that night.

The Banquet in Atlanta, Georgia, was opened by Jourdan Urbach (’09). Jourdan was later joined by Karen Baluso in another moving piece.

This video kicked off the induction of the Class of 2013 Coca-Cola Scholars welcoming them to the 5,000+ strong alumni family.

Tom Brokaw addressed the 2013 Coca-Cola Scholars Banquet, welcoming the 25th Class of Scholars. Mr. Brokaw was later joined by Scholars Jamie Lathan (’96), Ryan McCannell (’89), and Kate Sullivan (’94) in a great conversation about education, global development, and the global advancement of women.

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2012 Coca-Cola Scholars with The Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United/CCSF Chairman Claude Nielsen and special guest, world renowned actor and philanthropist Morgan Freeman.

Last week, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation welcomed the 24th Class of Coca-Cola Scholars into a family that will last a lifetime. These 253 high school seniors are characterized by their academic excellence, community leadership and most importantly, their desire to make the world a better place.

This year’s class of Scholars represents 248 U.S. high schools across all 50 states, selected from more than 80,000 applicants. Fifty of these Scholars will receive four-year $20,000 scholarships and 200 will receive four-year scholarships.

Since its founding 26 years ago through a partnership between the U.S. Coca-Cola bottling community and The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation (CCSF) has provided more than $48 million in scholarships to 5,000 students nationwide. Last year, in honor of Coca-Cola’s 125th Anniversary, system leaders helped ensure this legacy will continue when they announced a pledge of $25 million in new funding to the Foundation.

Celebrating Young Difference-Makers

The celebration of this year’s class of Coca-Cola Scholars began last Thursday with a special ceremony uniting more than 1,100 leaders, partners, friends and family of Coca-Cola including Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United/CCSF Chairman Claude Nielsen, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, UN Ambassador Andrew Young and special guest, world renowned actor and philanthropist Morgan Freeman.

During the event, the Scholars were recognized in a procession and then spent time amongst all of the guests, sharing stories of how they have already been working to change their communities for the better, from volunteering with local charitable organizations to starting up some of their own cause-related programs.

Committ Celebrate ConnectA centerpiece of the event was a special on-stage Q&A between Kent and Freeman featuring questions submitted by the Scholars. The Oscar-award winning actor, who spent extra time with the Scholars before the ceremony, discussed his journey to professional acclaim, his passionate support of education and the importance of following your dreams.  He left the Scholars with these final words: “Just don’t stop – if you don’t ever quit, I guarantee, you’re going to get there.”

Kent wrapped up the evening with more words of encouragement for the fearless young leaders, as he told them with confidence, “You have the power to change the world forever.”

An Enduring Commitment to Community

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Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni in Texas partnered with Keep Houston Beautiful for a clean-up at Japhet Creek

To acknowledge the special commitment to community that all Coca-Cola Scholars share, each year the new class participates in a community service project during their weekend in Atlanta. As a perfect way to celebrate Earth Month, the Scholars painted 75 rain barrels (55-gallon syrup concentrate drums donated by Coca-Cola) for water conservation. Twenty of the barrels will be auctioned off on eBay with proceeds going to the 2012 Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit and the rest will be donated to local charities and schools.

For the first time, Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni and their Coca-Cola families across the country joined in this tradition by organizing local community service events of their own. As part of the first “Coca-Cola Scholars National Day of Service,” 17 events are taking place across our U.S. regions, ranging from rain barrel workshops to beach clean-ups to active healthy living activities. More than 500 Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni are participating along with hundreds more Coca-Cola employees, partners, friends and families.

A Connection That Lasts a Lifetime

When they arrive on college campuses across the country this fall, the 24th class of Coca-Cola Scholars will be welcomed by upperclassmen who share the same distinction. And after they graduate, they will join an extended family of more than 5,000 Coca-Cola Scholar Alumni who stay connected through regional councils and special events. They also stay in touch with their local Coca-Cola bottling facilities to organize community service efforts and make an even greater impact together.

This lasting connection, camaraderie and sense of family sets the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation apart from other scholarship programs.

“Our goal is to foster enrichment opportunities and continue our relationships with these students not only through their four years of college, but many years later as they start their careers and become leaders in their communities,” said Mark Davis, President of CCSF.  “Scholars tell us that while the money is great, the relationships they form are more valuable than anything else. Because of our incredible Coca-Cola family in the U.S., mentorships often lead to job opportunities, and connections create community service opportunities and lifelong friendships. I’m proud and humbled to be part of such a powerful program.”