US students’ dreams were deferred across the nation by the COVID-19 crisis. Mckinsey recently reported that college enrollment dropped by more than 500k students in fall 2020 compared with fall 2019. It has been even more direr for community colleges—which tend to serve low-income students of color.
PepsiCo and its foundation are aiming to help support those students overcome barriers to get their degrees.
The two entities recently announced they are expanding their Community College Program to more students nationally. 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.
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.
Per a press release, 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.