PepsiCo and its philanthropic foundation on Tuesday announced a new $40 million scholarship and professional mentoring program to support Black and Hispanic community college students.
The program will initially launch at Dallas College, Houston Community College, Westchester Community College (New York) and City Colleges of Chicago, with plans to expand to 16 other cities in the fall. The goal is to serve 4,000 students over five years, according to the company.
The program will provide students with financial support as well as mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees. Students will have the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at the company.
The program comprises two types of scholarships: Uplift scholarships for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates, and SMILE (Success Matters in Life and Education) scholarships for community college graduates transitioning to four-year colleges. Recipients also will receive funds for education expenses like tuition and books, and financial support for eligible living expenses, such as transportation.
“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,” PepsiCo Chair and CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a release.
Laguarta noted the program, which is based on a three-year pilot with City Colleges of Chicago, is a cornerstone initiative of PepsiCo’s more than $570 million commitment over the next five years to help Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the U.S. to address issues of inequality and create opportunity.
Community colleges are ideal partners for the initiative, according to company officials.
“Community colleges help unlock doors to the job market, offering students opportunities for economic advancement that they might not have otherwise,” said Merary Simeon, vice president of diversity and engagement at PepsiCo. “They’re especially critical for Black and Hispanic students who face systemic barriers to accessing higher education. This program is focused on helping put students on the pathway to economic security, and PepsiCo believes community colleges are an essential part of that journey.”