Coca-Cola Scholars Banquet

The NEW 2020 class of Coca-Cola Scholars will be announced this week!
This year’s celebration will be virtual.  Stay tuned!

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Meanwhile…enjoy reading about last year’s event…

Official Photo of the 2019 Coca-Cola Scholars with Julie Hamilton, former CCSF Board Chair and Senior Vice President, Global Chief Customer & Commercial Leadership Officer of The Coca-Cola Company; Jim Dinkins, President Coca-Cola North America; John Murphy, EVP and CFO of The Coca-Cola Company; Muhtar Kent, Chairman, The Coca-Cola Company; Brian Smith – President and COO of The Coca-Cola Company; Kirk Tyler, CCFS Board Chair and CEO, Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling and Jane Hale Hopkins, President, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrated in Atlanta at their reception and awards banquet on April 4th.

The 2019 and 31st class of Coca-Cola Scholars was officially welcomed and celebrated in Atlanta at their reception and awards banquet on April 4th.   Coca-Cola leadership, sponsors, program alumni, and community dignitaries applauded as the 2019 class of Coca-Cola Scholars walked across the stage and joined a family of alumni 6,000+ strong, full of leaders who are driving positive change in their respective fields all over the world, each one of them connected by Coca-Cola.

This year, Coke Scholar alumni were prominently featured throughout the banquet.  During the reception, screens shared photos of previous Scholars, along with their extraordinary accomplishments.

2004 Scholar Nicki Lehrer performing

During the official program, 2004 Scholar Nicki Lehrer performed several classical guitar pieces for the audience, and Kate Sullivan, 1994 Scholar and host of PBS’s To Dine For with Kate Sullivan, led a panel with three fellow alumni:

  • Adan Gonzalez, 2003 Scholar who is uplifting underprivileged students in inner city public schools through his nonprofit, Puede Network
  • Kavita Shukla, 2002 Scholar who is eliminating food waste through her invention, FreshPaper
  • Samuel Alemayehu, 2004 Scholar who is turning trash into treasure by creating Africa’s first waste-to-energy facility
(L to R) Kate Sullivan moderates the onstage panel with Samuel Alemayehu, Adan Gonzalez and Kavita Shukla.

A special moment included honoring Muhtar Kent, a true champion of the program, as he prepares to retire from The Coca-Cola Company.   Muhtar then introduced the Keynote Panel Moderator and 1994 Coca-Cola Scholar, Kate Sullivan.

Julie Hamilton and Kirk Tyler present Muhtar Kent with a framed picture of him and a group of Scholars, after sharing how Muhtar has championed this program over the years.

“When I think about Coca-Cola Scholars and what this movement, this community, really means to me, I think of it as an investment into the future… one you will all shape and build. And the positive impact of this investment is not confined by city limits, state lines, or even our international borders. On the contrary, the good done by you and your predecessors is destined to multiply and spread around the world.” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company.

The Scholars Banquet is a highlight for our new Scholars, who travel to

“When I look at this new class of Scholars, I am struck and I am thrilled by the diversity and the unity. They are proof that the two can walk hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder. Hopefully what we do is provide more opportunity – that we open the door just a crack to a different future and they’ll step through it.” said Jane Hale Hopkins.

Atlanta for a special Scholars Weekend.  During this four-day weekend, the Scholars participate in a Leadership Development Institute to further develop their leadership skills, tour local landmarks, engage with former Coca-Cola Scholars and participate in a group community service project.  Coca-Cola Scholar alumni stay in touch through regional councils, special events, and through their local Coca-Cola Bottlers. The Coca-Cola Bottling community frequently showcases meaningful events that reinforce the program and support of our Scholars locally.

To cap off their experience, the 2019 Scholars had a closing celebration at Coca-Cola headquarters. The closing marks a beginning of sorts – graduation, college, and a future with their new Coca-Cola Scholar family. “We’re not a one-off, there’s 150 of us. And that’s incredibly inspiring to realize that there’s a community throughout the country our age who are going to use our lives to improve the world.” said 2019 Scholar, Joel Kiernan from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A joint effort of Coca-Cola Bottlers across the United States and The Coca Cola Company, the Coca Cola Scholars Program is one of the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship programs of its kind. With the addition of the 2019 class, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will have provided more than 6,150 Coke Scholars nationwide with over $69 million in scholarships over the course of 31 years.  The 31st class of Scholars alone will collectively be awarded $3.1 million in scholarships.

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.  US Bottlers of Coca-Cola also play a central role in celebrating Scholarship winners in their respective markets!

If you are new to having Scholar in your territory, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation team for assistance at   Bottling organizations whose territories correspond to each Scholar’s geography will receive a package with personalized certificates to use in local school award ceremonies. If you are a Bottler who has a winning Scholar or Regional Finalist in your territory, we encourage you to use the certificates, and work locally to create a special experience that acknowledges this distinction in local school award ceremonies.

Enjoy these photos from the reception and banquet!



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