Amid National Access And Affordability Crisis, PepsiCo Expands Community College Program Nationwide To Support 4,000 Black And Hispanic Students

PepsiCo and The PepsiCo Foundation announced the nationwide expansion of the company’s Community College Program to students across nine additional cities. Amid a crisis in higher education that has seen plunging rates of enrollment and degree completion among Black and Hispanic students, PepsiCo’s program promotes access and advancement through a holistic approach that offers not only financial support to help students at the point of college entry but addresses the additional obstacles – retention, completion, and workforce readiness – that disproportionately impact these students’ educational and professional journeys. 

This program aims to close the education and achievement gap for historically excluded communities by providing additional resources such as professional mentoring, financial assistance for eligible living costs such as childcare and transportation, and financial literacy courses.

Building on its Racial Equality Journey, PepsiCo is expanding this program to offer 1,400 scholarship opportunities through 2022 to eligible Black and Hispanic students attending the following schools:

  • Los Angeles Community College District (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)
  • Wayne County Community College District (Detroit, MI)
  • Atlanta Metropolitan State College (Atlanta, GA)
  • Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Maricopa County Community College District (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Valencia College (Orlando, FL)
  • Alamo Colleges District (San Antonio, TX)
  • Prince George’s Community College (Largo, MD)

“Black and Hispanic students are facing an unprecedented educational crisis as enrollment rates continue to decline and dropout rates increase, often because of financial needs outside of tuition. Students need more than scholarships – they need support to stay in school, finish their degrees, and access the job market,” said C.D. Glin, Global Head of Philanthropy, PepsiCo & Vice President, The PepsiCo Foundation. “We launched this program to help students address some of the most critical barriers to their education and economic success, and we’re proud to announce today that we’re bringing more students in and helping them on their academic journey.”

Historically, community colleges are an engine of upward mobility, serving a student population that is demographically and economically diverse. But for students already struggling to cover living expenses, COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis proved an insurmountable barrier, forcing thousands to forgo enrollment or drop out. In response, PepsiCo and The PepsiCo Foundation launched the Community College Program in March 2021 to support 4,000 Black and Hispanic students over five years. Started with City Colleges of Chicago, Westchester Community College, Houston Community College and Dallas College, the program addresses the underlying barriers that make it challenging for minority students to enroll, persist, and graduate.

The PepsiCo Foundation’s Community College Program includes 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.

The Uplift Scholarship also provides assistance for students pursuing programs that are not often covered by federal student aid. Students receive financial assistance and services designed to support their continued enrollment, including dedicated success coaches, access to emergency grants, and financial literacy programs to empower them with the resources and knowledge for making sound financial decisions. The program is offered at all 13 community college partners.

The PepsiCo Foundation also announced the first 25 recipients of the S.M.I.L.E. scholarship program, who have each received a $25,000 scholarship grant, a professional mentor from PepsiCo to provide guidance and support along their educational journey, and access to financial wellness courses. The 25 students are currently enrolled at some of the nation’s top academic institutions, including Columbia University, Fordham University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Texas at Austin.

“It’s a great honor to partner with PepsiCo and be included in this groundbreaking program alongside other top institutions,” said Madeline Pumariega, President of Miami Dade College. “Now more than ever, Miami Dade College remains committed to advancing Hispanic and Black student success and completion rates, as well as creating and expanding career pathways for in demand jobs in the new global economy.”

PepsiCo efforts to date include a $50 million commitment over five years to support Black-owned businesses primarily through Pepsi Dig In, a multi-faceted platform that encourages consumers to support Black-owned restaurants as well as provides resources to restaurateurs through the Black Restaurants Deliver program, a no-cost service that helps owners boost online ordering and delivery capabilities; The PepsiCo Foundation’s Black Restaurant Accelerator, a $10 million program with the National Urban League to provide support to 500 Black-owned restaurants around the U.S. over the next five years; and Doritos SOLID BLACK™, a $5 million multi-platform initiative designed to bolster the voices of Black innovators and creators.  

Similarly, PepsiCo recently launched Juntos Crecemos, a $50 million platform to strengthen Hispanic-owned businesses over the next five years, with a key part of that platform being The PepsiCo Foundation’s IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator, which is providing $10 million in funding to 500 Hispanic small food and beverage business owners in 13 U.S. cities. PepsiCo’s global commitment to advance food security through collaboration in communities where we live and work, Food For Good, also provides jobs and nutritious food access for Black and Hispanic communities.

More information about PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey can be found online at pepsico.com/about/diversity-and-engagement.

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