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Tacolicious School Project Funds Cash-Strapped Public Schools

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) This week's Jefferson Award winners make tacos the "meat" of their fundraising program. And so far, they've generated more than a million dollars for cash-strapped public schools.

You're not just shelling out money for tacos if you eat at San Francisco-based Tacolicious. Founders Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave donate 15% of every Monday's proceeds to public schools during the school year.

"We really wanted the whole community to feel like they can participate," explained Deseran. "I really feel strongly that public schools have to be the backbone of a good community."

The husband and wife team started the Tacolicious School Project in 2012 after one of their sons needed pencil and kleenex donations for his San Francisco classroom.

"That's so sad for me, that that's what a teacher has to ask for," Deseran said.

The school was facing a $100,000 deficit.

"I'm thinking to myself, 'How many cars will you have to wash or cookies you're going to have to sell to raise a hundred grand?'" Hargrave recalled.

Today, Deseran and Hargrave's five Tacolicious locations partner with 54 public schools in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Jose. They've given away a million dollars, and aim to raise a million each year as they go forward.

The project has funded a variety of school needs - including iPads and a mariachi band, and programs in agriculture and Chinese opera.

Everett Middle School has received more than $20,000 over four years.

Principal Lena Van Haren says it's helped pay for electives like art..

"It's an amazing gift," she said. "To me, they're a model for the community business and I'm so grateful."

So are students like Jonah Collins and Josefine Gebhard.

"You get to express yourself on paper," said Collins.

"It's one of my favorite classes," added Gebhard.

Besides schools, Hargrave and Deseran also fund scholarships: this year, $15,000 for a low-income student.

"The big picture is that you're touching all these people," said Hargrave.

"It just feels good, It feels right," said Deseran.

So for their Tacolicious School Project that benefits public schools and students, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave.

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