McDonald’s Future 22 is an integrated, creative campaign, launched during Black History Month, that highlights 22 young, Black visionaries who are creating meaningful change in communities across the country.  

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During the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture, McDonald’s furthered its commitment to serving up bright futures by surprising 22 young, Black leaders with $10,000 each — totaling to $220,000 — to help them achieve their community-driven goals, with the help of award-winning actress, singer and entertainer and campaign spokesperson, Keke Palmer.   


“It’s an honor to join McDonald’s to recognize and celebrate these awesome leaders, while also supporting their work and mission,” said Keke. “They are creating bright futures for themselves and the next generation – and, really, all of us – and the excitement on their faces during the McDonald’s surprise gave me joy.”  

During the celebratory event held at Essence Fest last weekend in New Orleans, which McDonald’s sponsored for the 22nd year, Keke and Marissa Fisher, a second-generation McDonald’s Owner/Operator in New Orleans, participated in a fireside chat moderated by McDonald’s Senior Director of Cultural Engagement, Elizabeth Campbell, to inspire Future 22 leaders and provide tips on staying true to one’s mission, finding balance while changing the world and paving the way for others, among other topics.   

“This year’s Essence Fest theme was Black Joy, and we couldn’t wait to celebrate all 22 leaders and bring them to New Orleans, in honor of their accomplishments,” said Campbell. “We certainly could’ve surprised them virtually but making them a part of our Essence Fest moment meant unlocking the additional community of supporters who are McDonald’s Owner/Operators and the Essence Fest family, to further celebrate them and demonstrate our belief in their work. It was more special than imagined, representing our commitment to feeding and fostering the communities we serve.”    

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All weekend long, the Future 22 leaders were invited to celebrate the Essence Festival of Culture 2022 theme of “Black Joy” through different McDonald’s activities, including a celebratory event in their honor, impactful experiences at its branded booth, loads of entertainment, and show-stopping performances.  Future 22 campaign spokesperson Keke Palmer announced the funds during the celebratory event following a fireside chat with New Orleans-based Owner/Operator Marissa Fisher on staying true to one’s mission, creating your own opportunities and finding balance while changing the world. Moderated by McDonald’s Senior Director of Cultural Engagement, Elizabeth Campbell. 

McDonald’s Future 22 and the Essence Fest partnership are two of the many company initiatives that celebrate Black excellence. For more than 65 years, McDonald’s and its Owner/Operators have awarded scholarships to HBCU students, and created impactful partnerships with community organizations like the National Urban League, NAACP, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and more. And this year, McDonald’s is proud to congratulate the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association for 50 years of entrepreneurial and community excellence. 

Watch the interviews above for more on Keke Palmer and McDonald’s Future 22 campaign.