The PepsiCo Foundation has announced a new $40 million scholarship and professional mentoring program to support Black and Hispanic aspiring and graduating community college students. Launching in Dallas, Westchester County, New York, Houston, and Chicago, PepsiCo plans to expand the program to 16 additional cities in the fall and aims to support 4,000 students over five years.
This $40 million initiative is designed to help Black and Hispanic students pursue and succeed in higher education and gain the training and skills they need for current and future job markets. The comprehensive program provides students with financial support as well as mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees. Students will also have the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at PepsiCo.
The program is comprised of two types of scholarships – Uplift Scholarships for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates and S.M.I.L.E (Success Matters in Life & Education) scholarships for community college graduates transitioning to four-year colleges. Because students of color are more likely to face challenges like access to affordable housing, childcare support, transportation, and food, scholarship recipients will receive funding for education expenses like tuition and books as well as financial support for eligible living expenses.
“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 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 as a key part of that effort.”