PepsiCo Launches A More Than $5 Million Initiative To Help Young Adults From Chicago's South And West Side Communities Access High-Quality Careers In Partnership With Leading Community Organizations

CHICAGO, Oct. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- PepsiCo today announced the launch of its new initiative, Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP) by PepsiCo Stronger Together, a more than $5 million dollar investment that aims to put nearly 3,000 young people from Chicago's South and West Sides on the path to high-quality careers over the next five years. In partnership with leading community-based organizations including Imagine Englewood if, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC), Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), UCAN, Chicago Jesuit Academy (CJA) and Chicago Cubs Charities, this research-based, community-informed program will offer workforce readiness through career exposure, paid work experience, skills training and employment opportunities. and employment opportunities.

According to a 2020 report by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism disseminating a 2019 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Black and Hispanic Chicagoans aged 16-19 are approximately twice as likely to be out of school and unemployed compared to their white counterparts. Systemic barriers to high-quality jobs contribute to persistent rates of young Chicagoans neither in school nor employed. PREP by PepsiCo Stronger Together represents a strategic shift to an equity-centered model of community engagement to address these disparities and build pathways to workforce preparation.

Ultimately, PREP's objective is to place youth on a path to high-quality careers which includes a continued commitment to direct hiring across PepsiCo. As part of PREP, PepsiCo will provide support for young people from the South and West Side communities to gain early exposure to careers, paid internship experience and credentials in fields that are relevant to the company's Chicago operations with the intention to help young people build careers with PepsiCo and other Chicago employers. PREP builds on PepsiCo's recent 3-year pilot program with City Colleges of Chicago which resulted in nearly 50 scholarships and more than 20 students receiving employment or work experience at the company.

"Chicago's South and West Sides are full of talented young people who thrive when provided access to career opportunities and skills training," said Neil Pryor, President of PepsiCo Beverages North America, Central Division. "Chicago offers one of the most diverse, talented workforces in the United States. Increasing access to high-quality careers across industries enables economic growth in South and West Side communities and also supports a sustainable pipeline of high-potential, diverse talent for PepsiCo's local business. PREP by PepsiCo Stronger Together is our commitment to inclusive community partnerships which help young people in Chicago realize their potential."

PREP's initial programming with leading community-based organizations anchored in or primarily serving the South and West Sides of Chicago includes:

  • Cubs Charities: Pepsi is proud to partner with Cubs Scholars as its first and only corporate sponsor, supporting college prep workshops and scholarships for eight high school seniors through a yearlong program as well as offering paid internship opportunities.
  • Chicago Jesuit Academy (CJA): PepsiCo is proud to join Jewel-Osco in its support of CJA and will lean in with employee volunteers and financial resources to provide stipends to students as they invest in technical training for programs to help them enter the workforce with competitive skills.
  • Imagine Englewood if (IEi): IEi and PepsiCo will offer a career exploration workshop for 20 youth with interest in the professional fields of Research and Development, Marketing and Human Resources.
  • North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC): As a convening organization based in North Lawndale, PepsiCo's support of NLCCC will help develop workforce readiness and skill building programs in collaboration with its network of community-based organizations dedicated to serving residents on Chicago's West side.
  • Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP): PepsiCo's initial support will build capacity in SWOP's workforce development program to expand their network of local employers, increase access to violence prevention resources and boost internal capacity to provide soft skills training to community members.
  • UCAN: PepsiCo employees will join UCAN's virtual career exploration workshop for youth ages 12-16, to offer a look into multiple career paths such while also encouraging students to enhance personal branding, soft-skills, and leadership skills.

"PepsiCo intentionally worked with community partners who are the backbones of the South and West side communities to inform their workforce readiness support and NLCCC was proud to be PepsiCo's advisor," said Rodney Brown, Executive Committee and Co-Founder of NLCCC. "When our youth and young adults see what's possible for their future careers, they gain the confidence to pursue those careers -- and programs like PREP give them the inspiration, support and skills they need to achieve their dreams. PepsiCo understands that deeply intentional, sustained community engagement leads to both better community outcomes and business outcomes and I encourage other Chicago companies to do the same."

Pepsi Stronger Together provides support to those in need while building bridges between community, education, and sustainability in communities across the U.S. and now is expanding through a Chicago-specific program, PREP, which has been developed by passionate employees and Chicago Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) including the company's Black ERG, MOSAIC, and Hispanic ERG Adelante which will be activating community service events with UCAN and Imagine Englewood if.

PREP builds on the company's 120-year history and investment in Chicago. This program is an extension of PepsiCo's Racial Equality Journey, a more than $570 million set of commitments over five years to create opportunity and empower Black and Hispanic people in our workforce, business partnerships and communities.

PepsiCo would also like to acknowledge the partnership of the non-profit organizations that participated in the development and design of PREP Stronger Together including: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago Cares, Growing Home, Hope Technology and Education Center, Imagine Englewood if, Metropolitan Family Services, New Covenant Community Development Corporation, Southwest Organizing Project, Stay Lit, Step Up, Teamwork Englewood, and UCAN.

For more information on PREP by PepsiCo Stronger Together please visit

About PepsiCo 
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, Tropicana, and SodaStream. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. "Winning with Purpose" reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of our business strategy and brands.  For more information, visit

About Imagine Englewood if
Imagine Englewood if (IEi) is a youth development nonprofit organization with a mission to strengthen and empower the Greater Englewood Community. Since 1997, IEi has implemented this mission by teaching local youth and their families healthy living, environmental awareness and positive communication skills. IEi offers year-round enrichment programs for youth ages 6-18 that include the Imagination Explorers After-School Program, Kids on the Move Summer Day Camp, all girl Progressionista Book Club and teen leadership focused Growing Citizen Leaders program. Their dynamic enrichment programming includes healthy cooking, fitness activities, science experiments, art, hip hop dancing, gardening, career exploration, leadership training, field trips and various cultural experiences. IEi also hosts health and wellness events on vacant lots, offers gardening skills classes, community service projects, and organizes Greater Englewood Unity Day – the largest community cleanup on the South Side of Chicago.

About UCAN
 Founded 152 years ago as a Civil War orphanage, UCAN now annually serves and impacts more than 21,000 at-risk youth and families. UCAN has worked toward their vision that "Youth who suffer trauma can become our future leaders." UCAN advocates for youth, families and communities by providing opportunities that change lives through impactful programs, consistent presence, and unrivaled diversity and inclusion. Since March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, UCAN has been a critical provider of essential services. In collaboration with a community partner, UCAN provided 2,400 boxes of food and emergency funding for individuals and families, and engaged nearly 9,000 people from across Chicago and the world by hosting and co-hosting nearly 50 virtual webinars, conferences and meetings as part of the agency's pivot to remaining a visible force in service to community.

About Chicago Jesuit Academy
Chicago Jesuit Academy (CJA) is a loving and academically rigorous tuition-free Catholic elementary school for students and families from resilient communities impacted by historical disinvestment. CJA supports and advocates for its students and alumni, as well as other children of modest means as they progress to and through college prep high schools, post-secondary education and the transition to meaningful careers and citizenship. CJA invites students to become persons for others who aspire to be open to growth, loving, intellectually competent, religious and committed to doing justice. Learn more at

About Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)
The Southwest Organizing Project is a broad-based organization of 45 faith institutions, local schools, and other institutions in the Southwest Chicago communities of Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, West Lawn, West Elsdon, and Ashburn. The organization builds community leaders who work on many initiatives , including the development of affordable housing, violence prevention, access to education , and protection of immigrants' civil liberties. One of SWOP's recent key housing initiatives is a partnership with United Power for Action and Justice and Brinshore Development to lead the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign, a multifaceted initiative to strengthen the community through improved affordable housing, quality schools, and safe streets.

About North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council
The North Lawndale Coordinating Council is a group of North Lawndale stakeholders, including community-based organizations, business owners, elected officials and individuals, that have come together to guide comprehensive planning and implementation in North Lawndale (Community Area 29). NLCCC develops innovative solutions to improve the built environment and to increase the capacity of local organizations to make a positive impact on the community. The North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council improves the physical, economic and social fiber of the local community through strategic and comprehensive planning, civic engagement and implementation of stakeholder-driven initiatives. NLCCC continually develops and execute bold community-driven solutions with the input of an engaged community that questions assumptions and challenges the status quo.

About Cubs Charities 
Cubs Charities is a nonprofit that mobilizes the power of sport to champion youth, families and communities. Cubs Charities' work is focused on sports-based youth development and academic programming, investments in safe places to play and strategic grantmaking.  Since 2009, Cubs Charities has invested more than $40 million in people, places and programs across Chicago. Cubs Charities is a leader among professional sports teams in its creation, execution and delivery of quality, sports-based youth development programming. Today, Cubs Charities' portfolio includes programs that provide more than 26,000 children and youth with skilled coaches, quality programming and safe and accessible places to play the game.

Jessica Ortiz
Rise Strategy Group
C: 312-550-0102

SOURCE PepsiCo, Inc.


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