Raising Canes founder donates $10,000 for children’s future college careers

Mariane Gutierrez

Raising Cane’s CEO and founder Todd Graves donated $10,000 to the UT’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program on Monday to support students who want to attend college.

Graves presented the check to the program, a nonprofit which offers college funds for economically disadvantaged grade school students, at the Raising Cane’s on MLK Boulevard. Graves makes this donation in varying amounts every year. 

The Neighborhood Longhorns Program relies solely on donations and has received more than $300,000 this past year alone, with 60% of these funds being raised through events like the one at Raising Cane’s, program executive director Patrick Patterson said.

“The only way we can be around is through the contributions (from the) community because it’s a self-sustaining program,” Patterson said. “This past year, it took $308,000, and that’s just maintaining our status quo. We have a board of about 50 people who support us and get these contributions.”

Graves said Austin has a special place in his heart because he worked at the MLK Boulevard Raising Cane’s location for 14 years. Since he came up with his business model while he was in college, Graves said he visits and donates to various campuses throughout the U.S. to return to his roots and support children through programs such as the Neighborhood Longhorns Program. 

“I have an affinity for college campuses since I wrote the plan in my business class, so in this way it is really important for me to give back,” Graves said. “I like (the Neighborhood Longhorns Program) because it helps children recognize their own potential and get their college aspirations. It’s a double win since we support the kids and also the University.”

Chain representatives and board members attended the event, and a crowd of students congratulated the
children receiving the award and spoke to them about college life. UT Spirit Squad and UT mascot Hook ‘Em also attended the event and took pictures with
the children.

“It’s really important to give the kids that sense of community,” said Caleb Barnwell, computer science and math senior. “We want to engage them and help bring that Texas pride everywhere around campus and give them a sense of accomplishment to continue with their goals.”

Graves said he is planning to travel to San Antonio next, and he anticipates holding similar events as he continues to travel to other Raising Cane’s locations this year.