PepsiCo launches $40m scholarship programme for Black and Hispanic students

PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm, The PepsiCo Foundation, has put in place a new $40 million scholarship and mentoring programme to support 4,000 Black and Hispanic community college graduates in the US, over the next five years.

The FMCG maker – whose brands include Pepsi, Doritos, Quaker Oats and Tropicana – says it “recognises the need for systemic change to address barriers that make it difficult for low-income students of colour to pursue higher education”.

The programme will initially begin in Dallas, Westchester, Houston and Chicago, before rolling out to 16 additional cities in the autumn. It is based on a successful three-year pilot between PepsiCo and City Colleges of Chicago.

As well as financial support students will get mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees and they will also have the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at the food and beverage giant.

Commenting on the move, PepsiCo chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said: “Education is a great equaliser that enables upward mobility, helps build generational wealth and lifts up communities over the long-term. 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.”

The programme is comprised of two types of scholarships:

  • Uplift for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates
  • S.M.I.L.E (Success Matters in Life & Education) for community college graduates transitioning to four-year colleges.

PepsiCo notes that students of colour “are more likely than white students to face challenges like access to affordable housing, childcare support, transportation and food”. The company’s scholarship recipients will therefore receive funding for educational expenses like tuition and books as well as financial support for eligible living expenses.

The programme is part of a bigger $570 million initiative from PepsiCo over the next five years to lift up Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the US. As part of this effort PepsiCo will increase its spending with Hispanic- and Black-owned suppliers, diversify leadership within the company, and increase community engagement.

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