The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has begun accepting nominations for its 2014 "Restaurant Neighbor" and "Faces of Diversity" awards.

Entering its 16th year, the Foundation's "Restaurant Neighbor Award," founded in partnership with American Express, celebrates "outstanding charitable service" performed by restaurant operators. The "Faces of Diversity" award, sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice and founded in 2007, is presented to members of the restaurant industry who have achieved the "American dream," according to a news release.

"The 'Restaurant Neighbor' and 'Faces of Diversity' awards spotlight the success stories of hardworking entrepreneurs and local heroes for their commitment to the industry and their communities," said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of philanthropic initiatives for the NRAEF. "The restaurant sector is one of the most diverse in the U.S. and the nominations we receive only reinforce how the industry makes a meaningful difference in people's lives every day. We encourage those within the industry to share the inspirational stories of their employees and peers by nominating them for these two prestigious awards."

The "Restaurant Neighbor Award" will honor winners in four categories: small business, mid-size business, large business/national chain and Cornerstone Humanitarian. Each will receive $5,000 to support their charitable giving efforts. Participating state restaurant associations will select winners in their respective states that will be in the running for the national award.

The "Faces of Diversity Award" will recognize three individuals as the national winners, who will have a $2,500 NRAEF student scholarship presented in their name.

Applications and nomination forms will be accepted online at NRAEF.org/Awards until Nov. 18. The national winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they will be recognized at a gala awards dinner during the National Restaurant Association's Public Affairs Conference on April 29.

For more information, visit NRAEF.org/Build-Talent/Industry-Awards.

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