McDonald’s USA Teams Up with Actress Dascha Polanco to Open “Golden Doors” to Opportunities for Hispanic Students to Receive Up to $100,000 in College Scholarships

November 04, 2021


The McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is celebrating 35 years with “Puertas Doradas,” an interactive, traveling installation visiting high schools to inspire students to apply from now through Feb. 7, 2022

(CHICAGO – Nov. 4, 2021) Calling high school juniors and seniors: the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is back to provide college scholarships to Hispanic students. And this time around, the Golden Arches is partnering with actress and education advocate, Dascha Polanco, to inspire the next generation to apply and turn their college dreams into reality.

For more than 35 years, McDonald’s USA and its Hispanic Owner/Operators have served up bright futures by providing Hispanic high school students across the country with opportunities for higher education through the HACER® National Scholarship program, awarding more than $32 million in scholarships to 17,000 Hispanic students since 1985. Every year the scholarship awards a total of $500,000 to students to help them reach their full potential and secure the future they envisioned for themselves. Today, the scholarship program is one of the largest college scholarship programs in the country.

On a quest to motivate students to dream big and encourage applications, McDonald’s is meeting them where they are, through “Puertas Doradas” (Golden Doors), in high schools across the country. “Puertas Doradas” is a pop-up experience travelling through high schools throughout various cities in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

The in-person, interactive experience will lead students to a dedicated site featuring a short video of Dascha Polanco sharing the impact college had on her future paired with information needed to help students unlock their opportunity and a chance to receive college funds.  In addition to providing access to tools and resources to help students complete a successful scholarship application, the site will also introduce the story of Erick Soto, a recent HACER scholarship recipient, who learned of the program while at his neighborhood McDonald’s, where he accessed the free Wi-Fi to do his homework.

“This partnership with McDonald's is special to me because I, like many other students, worked a full-time job while earning a college degree to make ends meet. So, to be able to inspire Hispanic high school students to achieve their higher education dreams is an honor I don’t take lightly,” said Dascha Polanco, actress and education advocate. “I understand the challenges that come with achieving your dreams, and the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is a golden opportunity for many Latino students to make their big dreams a reality for a better tomorrow.”

The HACER® National Scholarship, backed by McDonald’s Hispanic Owner/Operators, comes at a critical time to reinforce with students that going to college is within reach. Today, many Hispanic students have to choose between their education and supporting their families, while others are foregoing their educational aspirations to avoid debt due to the high cost of schooling. In the past year, the number of first-year Latino students fell 20% in Fall 2020 and the number of Latino undergraduates dropped 5.3% in Spring 2021 compared to the same time last year.

“Following a year that challenged college aspirations for Hispanic students, we look forward to seeing our Puertas Doradas inspire high schoolers across the country to apply for the scholarship,” said Richard Castro, a McDonald’s Owner/Operator and national HACER® scholarship chairperson. “I’ve witnessed how these funds have impacted our community over the last 35 years and it’s been life changing. It’s an honor to continue to provide opportunities like this to Latino youth.”

The scholarship application period for the 2022-2023 academic year is open now through Feb. 7, 2022. In addition to applying for the scholarship, Hispanic college-bound students (and their parents) are encouraged to visit to register to the McDonald’s® HACER® Virtual Workshop Series. The workshops aim to provide educators, students, and parents with key educational resources, while bringing awareness to the McDonald’s® HACER® National Scholarship. 

HACER is just one of many company initiatives created to educate the next generation. This includes the Black & Positively Golden Scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship program for Asian and Pacific-Islander American students. Additionally, the Archways to Opportunity program for crew gives eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants the ability to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language.


McDonald's has always been committed to the communities it serves, and the people that make up those communities. But now they need support now more than ever, so McDonald's is prioritizing its commitment to communities to feed and foster their futures via initiatives like the HACER National Scholarship and more.

McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook.


Ti’Ara Brown

(312) 550-7681


Erick Morelos

(708) 308-2963

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