The PepsiCo Foundation is launching a $40 million scholarship program, investing in 4,000 Black and latinx students throughout the country, including 160 Chicagoans.
Partnering with City Colleges of Chicago, the PepsiCo Foundation Uplift Scholars Program will help fund scholarships plus provide other resources, such as emergency dollars for childcare, transportation, wellness centers and food pantries, among other services.
The Uplift Scholarship is providing $600,000 over two years to students who are pursuing degrees in five high-demand areas:
- Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
- Automotive Technology
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Information Technology
The second scholarship offered, called S.M.I.L.E. (Success Matters in Life and Education), is for community college graduates making the transition to a four-year institution.
Armando Saleh, director of government affairs for PepsiCo, said certificate degrees are not typically covered by financial aid, so this funding will help eliminate economic barriers.
“The idea is to try to align with industries that are in demand but also align with PepsiCo facilities here in Chicago,” said Saleh, emphasizing the demand for manufacturing jobs in the city.
The United States lost 10 million jobs during the pandemic, some of which will never come back, CNN reported.
The economic toll COVID-19 had has hit Black and brown communities especially hars, Saleh said. “We have to make investments in underserved communities.”
Rhonda Brown, president of City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, said because the job market has changed so much as a result of the pandemic, it’s the best time to upskill, reskill and/or explore a new skillset.
“Enrolling in an academic program to keep your mind active and keep yourself moving toward something is such a productive way to engage in the next two years as the country is rethinking itself,” Brown said.
Noting that education is another way to build economic mobility, Brown said going to school provides more access to support. For instance, students who are enrolled part time or full time are eligible for CARES Act dollars.
Fall term registration is open until August 26th, and summer registration closes June 5th. Students can apply here.