PepsiCo Foundation Uplift Scholarships Helping Ivy Tech Students Prepare for Work
Jonathan George understands first-hand the importance of community colleges. He was raised by two working parents who immigrated to the U.S. from India. The cost of a four-year school was out of reach so, after high school, he enrolled at Dallas College in Texas to get started.
“It was a tough journey for our family,” recalled Jonathan, who today is one of the PepsiCo Foundation Leads for North America. “Both of my parents had jobs, but we didn’t have enough money for tuition, and we had no access to loans for a four-year school. I was able to take the basics at Dallas College and I was able to afford it. The experience made me forever grateful for myself and others who don’t have access to a four-year education.”
Today, Jonathan and his team are opening doors for thousands of students – including those at Ivy Tech – with the PepsiCo Foundation Uplift Scholarship program. The PepsiCo Foundation is supporting Black and Hispanic students pursuing two-year degrees and professional certificates while also providing them with dedicated success coaches, access to emergency grants, financial literacy courses, and financial assistance. The scholarships are part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equity Journey and $570 million commitment to help dismantle systemic barriers that prevent Black and Hispanic American communities from achieving economic mobility.
Ivy Tech is one of 20 community colleges to partner with the PepsiCo Foundation on this program. The partnership, in fact, already has supported more than 160 scholarships for Black, Latino, and Hispanic students at Ivy Tech who are studying advanced manufacturing, information technology, business administration, logistics & supply chain, and transportation. PepsiCo plans to support 4,000 scholarships across 20 cities.
Jonathan said Ivy Tech’s emphasis on supporting students from all backgrounds is aligned with the PepsiCo Foundation’s program.
“We looked at community colleges with similar strategies of helping communities of color, and Ivy Tech is working to make sure Black and Hispanic students get an education,” he said. “We also want to help the communities in which we live and work. We have a lot of facilities in Indiana in communities such as Frankfort and Fort Wayne. Indiana is important to us, and there’s no better way to engage in the community than to partner with a college like Ivy Tech that is going after the same goals.”
Rosetta Clay, the Diversity, Equity, and Belonging project coordinator at Ivy Tech, embraces the program because it’s about more than money.
“The partnership is a great example of how a program can help students while delivering impact to our workforce,” Rosetta said. “Important organic relationships will develop for our students with people at PepsiCo. We could see job opportunities for students – and we hope that will be the case – or it could be relationships that lead to other positive outcomes.”
A good example is Frank Herman from Houston. He dreamed of being a truck driver. With help from the scholarship program, Frank earned his Commercial Driver’s License at Houston Community College. Today, he’s a commercial truck driver for PepsiCo.
Jonathan, who joined PepsiCo 15 years ago, underscored the wide range of support offered through the program – from food assistance to understanding credit scores to helping students manage through life’s unpredictable obstacles. And the program will open new opportunities for Ivy Tech students as well.
“The students are unbelievably appreciative,” Rosetta said. “The program offers the opportunity to engage not just with PepsiCo but with alumni and administration within Ivy Tech. It’s a great way for our students to better understand their areas of interest and learn.”