PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation have announced the launch of a $40 million program focused on assisting low-income African-American and Latinx students aspiring to attend or who are already enrolled in community college.
With the goal of assisting four thousand students over five years, the program will provide financial support as well as mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees, and will also give students the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at the company. The program comprises two types of scholarships: Uplift grants for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates, and S.M.I.L.E (Success Matters in Life and Education) grants for community college graduates transitioning to a four-year college. Based on a successful pilot sponsored by Pepsi and administered by City Colleges of Chicago, the program will be expanded to Dallas College, Houston Community College, and Westchester Community College and will enlist additional partners as it expands to other cities.
According to PepsiCo, students of color are more likely than white students to face challenges such as access to affordable housing, childcare, transportation, and food security.
"Education is a great equalizer that enables economic growth, upward mobility, and helps build generational wealth that lifts up communities over the long-term," said PepsiCo chair and CEO Ramon Laguarta. "With this program, we are creating a differentiated experience for students that goes beyond scholarships by providing critical training, support, and other services that will put them on the path to success. Last year, PepsiCo committed to using our resources to combat deep-rooted economic disparities that have long impacted Black and Hispanic communities. We're proud to announce this community college program today as a key part of that effort."