Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurant chain has committed $30 million to help support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital's patients and school.
The Memphis research hospital's School Program will be renamed in honor of Chili’s. The school teaches children, most of whom are from other cities and countries, while they live on the campus.
Officials say the program helps patients focus on the future and keep up with schoolwork whether they stay for a few months or years.
St. Jude treats about 7,800 patients each year free of any cost to the family and operates a school that includes two classrooms, six licensed teachers, two coordinators for English as a second language and a Kindergarten graduation each year along with a graduation for patients who completed school education while receiving treatment.
Dallas-based Chili’s agreed to donate the money over six years. The contribution would raise Chili's total donations to the Memphis cancer research and treatment center to $88 million.
“Chili’s is a model for companies who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others, and we are profoundly grateful to their leaders, team members and guests for their long-standing, unwavering dedication to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” ALSAC chief executive Richard Shadyac Jr. said in a statement released by the organization.
ALSAC is the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.
"I’m so honored to be a part of a brand whose sole purpose is to connect, serve and give," Chili's president Kelli Valade said in a statement. "Our new commitment to St. Jude is another example of how we’re living out our purpose and supporting a cause so near and dear to our hearts.”
Not counting the promised $30 million, Chili’s has contributed $58 million to St. Jude. The effort was begun in 2002 by seven Chili’s in the Memphis area.
In 2006, the company committed $50 million over 10 years to help build St. Jude’s seven-story Chili’s Care Center. It is a $134 million building dedicated in 2007 to house the radiation oncology department, diagnostic imaging, brain tumor program and other departments.
This was one of the largest single donations ever received by the Memphis hospital.
Next month, Chili’s will sell merchandise in its restaurants including a $10 T-shirt and accept donations from customers using tabletop computer tablets. On St. Jude’s Day, which is Sept. 21, Chili’s will donate at least $100,000 to St. Jude, the company said.
St. Jude plans to build $1.2 billion worth of buildings and hire 2,000 more employees by 2021. The hospital and ALSAC currently employ almost 5,000 workers on the campus near Downtown.
In 2014, ALSAC surpassed the American Cancer Society to become the nation’s largest health care-related charity.