Frito-Lay is making a real impact in real communities

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Frito-Lay has a long history of helping others and creating a brighter future for those in the many communities it serves. Pic: GettyImages
Frito-Lay has a long history of helping others and creating a brighter future for those in the many communities it serves. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Frito-lay north america PepsiCo Frito-Lay philanthropy Feed the Children LULAC National Educational Service Centers child hunger Hispanic and latino americans digital literacy food insecurity scholarship

The Texas-based snack giant has earmarked $100k in scholarship funding for college students who are uplifting and leading their communities; kicked off the third year of Building the Future Together, which serves nearly 1,000 disadvantaged families each day; and extended its initiative to empower Hispanic families in need with digital literacy skills.

Community Builders Scholarship

Black Hispanic students DMEPhotography
Pic: GettyImages

Drawing on years of commitment to communities across the country, Frito-Lay is looking to support students who are giving back in their own communities and helping to lead us all to a brighter future.

The $23bn convenient foods division of PepsiCo has opened applications for a needs-based scholarship aimed at students who demonstrate a commitment to uplifting and leading their communities.

The Frito-Lay Community Builders Scholarship will award four students - from all backgrounds who work to improve their communities - $25,000 each to help further their higher-education goals.

“We are committed to celebrating and supporting the next generation of community leaders by providing them with resources to help build a brighter future,”​ said Joan Cetera, VP of Corporate Affairs for PepsiCo.

“As these young leaders take the reins, we see a path towards a future where communities are more resilient, where diversity and inclusion are celebrated and where every individual has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

Students are encouraged to apply early, but certainly before the deadline of 20 November.

In addition to the application requirements, students will need to provide details on how they are contributing - or uplifting - their communities and how it is impacting their higher education path.

Students are encouraged to illustrate their demonstrated leadership skills, extracurricular activities, work experience, and personal and professional goals.

Open to students from all background, applicants must:

  • Live in the US
  • Be high school seniors, graduates or current college undergraduates
  • Plan to enrol in full-time undergraduate study in the US at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent)

The programme is administered by Scholarship America, a leading designer and manager of scholarships and other education support programmes in the US. Reviewing the submitted applications will be a judging panel made up from a diverse group of employees from Frito-Lay - including frontline workers, employee resource group leaders and executives who each have a unique commitment to community building.

Applicants will be notified of their award status by 30 January 2024.

Building the Future Together

Feeding school children Getty
Pic: GettyImages

Building the Future Together (BtFT) has kicked off its third year in supporting students in underserved communities across the US, including the school districts of Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando and Phoenix.

BtFT is a programme launched under the decade-long partnership between the snack giant and Feed the Children, a leading US nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger. BtFT, however, not only supplements school meals with shelf-stable food items, but also provide school supplies, personal care and hygiene products and books.

“The success of our communities begins with the people who live and work in those communities, and this includes our youth,”​ said Rachel Hibbs, region VP, Frito-Lay North America.

“Student needs expand beyond book and academic resources; we are committed to the success of the whole student, which means ensuring they have access to food and hygiene items on a consistent basis as part of our commitment to their success.

“Partnering with the programme reinforces our longstanding commitment, and our responsibility to tackle food insecurity by ensuring access and resources to thousands of underserved students.”

BtFT’s Resource Rooms have become a safety net for many families, providing consistent access to both food and hygiene items. During the 2021-22 school year, sites with these facilities saw an increase in student attendance as well as increase in student confidence.

For participating schools where nearly eight in 10 students qualify for free school meals, the impact observed by BtFT schools has been significant: 

  • 63% noticed an increase in school attendance among students
  • 38% saw an increase in student confidence
  • 63% reported an increase in student engagement
  • 25% observed an improvement in student grades

Feed the Children envisions a world where no child goes to bed hungry, providing the food and resources to not only help them today but to reduce the need for help tomorrow. The nonprofit distributes product donations from corporate donors to local community partners, provides support for teachers and students and mobilises resources quickly to aid recovery efforts when natural disasters strike. It also manages child-focused community development programmes in eight other countries around the globe.

“Food insecurity impacts and affects academic success. It impacts social emotional health and the overall wellbeing of any person, but particularly our students,”​ said Cindy Tercero, community engagement manager for Phoenix Union High School District.

“You see this immediate sense of relief when students visit the Resource Room because they don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.”

Frito-Lay and Feed the Children are hoping to continue the success the programme saw during the 2021-22 school year where nearly 50,000 families across 232 schools in the target cities were served. BtFT provided more than $5.4m in resources, including 700,000 pounds of food (supplementing more than 262,000 meals).

To-date, the programme has provided more than 775,000 meals valued at over $12m.

“Children cannot thrive unless their basic needs are met​,” said Travis Arnold, president and CEO, Feed the Children.

“A widespread issue like childhood hunger will only be solved when enough people work together. Partners like Frito-Lay are vital to our mission as we serve vulnerable communities in cities across the United States.”

P.U.E.N.T.E.S programme

Mexican father helping daughter on laptop digital literacy Getty
Pic: GettyImages

Frito-Lay has extended its partnership with LULAC National Educational Service Centers (LNESC) for a second year to support a free digital literacy programme for Hispanic families in several US cities.

LNESC’s Pathways to Uplift and Empower through Novel Technology and Education Services (P.U.E.N.T.E.S.) programme is designed to bridge the language translation and technology digital divide to empower Hispanic families to develop digital literacy skills.

Building on the programme’s success in 2022, Frito-Lay is providing $150k to support the participation of 360 Hispanic parents and children in need in six US markets: Dallas, Topeka, Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Vancouver (WA).

“Frito-Lay remains committed to supporting our Hispanic communities by providing the resources necessary to thrive in an increasingly digital world,”​ said Wilson Alarcon, Frito-Lay senior manager and president of the company’s Adelante Employee Resource Group.

“Our commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for all is unwavering, and we're proud to continue this programme in the communities we call home.”

In the partnership’s inaugural year, Frito-Lay’s investment provided more than 250 families across the US with a pathway to develop digital literacy. Before starting the P.U.E.N.T.E.S. programme, 51.5% of participants were ‘classed’ as technophobes, but all emerged 100% more confident with technology.

LNESC was established in 1973 by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to provide educational programming to high-need students throughout the US and Puerto Rico. Throughout 16 education and technology centres, LNESC has served over 607,000 students, sent 159,000 on to college and awarded nearly $30m in scholarships.

“What began as a call to action to create access to online resources for struggling families during the wake of the pandemic has proven digital literacy to be essential not only in times of crisis, but as a necessity in everyday life,” ​said LNESC executive director Richard Roybal.

“We are excited to find creative and innovative methods to bring digital education and understanding of technology to families in the communities we serve.”

The bilingual digital education programme provides a tangible, long-term impact, giving participants access to information and resources to do schoolwork, financial aid searches, job training, job searches, ESL courses, online citizenship, résumés, college applications and GED preparation, along with other online tools to improve their employment status and open future opportunities.

Coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month (15 September-15 October), the programme complements PepsiCo's Racial Equality Journey (REJ) Hispanic Initiative, a $172m set of commitments to increase representation within its workforce, support Hispanic-owned businesses and help create economic opportunities in Hispanic American communities.

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