Grammy-nominated R&B singer and film star Tyrese Gibson offered words of wisdom to teens at the 2016 Coca-Cola Pay It Forward Academy this past weekend in Atlanta. As the program’s celebrity ambassador, Gibson shared personal experiences of how he overcame challenges, gave tips on how to be successful, and reminded the teens to never lose sight of their dreams. The educational development program awarded all 25 participants with a $5,000 scholarship.

Now in its fifth year, the three-day Coca-Cola Pay It Forward Academy experience for teens and their parents featured workshops on understanding financial aid, leading with purpose, creating a personal elevator speech, and more. Participants also visited Atlanta sites such as Tree Sound Studios, The World of Coca-Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.


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The program is open to high school students, and the parents or guardians who love and support their academic and philanthropic endeavors. Participants were nominated online by their parents, relatives, friends, mentors – and themselves.

A longtime friend of Coca-Cola, Gibson got his first big break when he serenaded fans with the “Always Coca-Cola” theme song more than 20 years ago in a popular 1995 commercial.