Working To Build A More Equitable, Next-Generation Workforce: PepsiCo Teams Up with South and West Side Organizations To Support Summer Programming and Launch Reverse Mentorship Program with The Quaker Oats Company and PepsiCo Beverages North America

The Summer Pilot is designed with and for Young People and is in Partnership with Grassroots Organizations including SWOP, Teamwork Englewood and Firehouse Community Arts Center

CHICAGO, May 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- This summer, PepsiCo will pilot a paid internship program, which leads with a reverse mentorship component that is designed with and for young people from the South and West Side communities. Through this internship, both mentors and mentees can expect to develop leadership skills and training, build meaningful relationships rooted in finding common ground, and share lived experiences across generations. This program is part of the company's PREP (Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment Program) initiative focused on supporting Black and Hispanic youth on the South and West Sides. The summer pilot will include young people ages 16-24 residing in Greater Chicago Lawn, Englewood and North Lawndale.

"All young people no matter their race, ethnicity or background, deserve equal access to learning, training, work experience and professional networks," said 20th Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor. "Lack of access to opportunities that build career skills could result in young people being left behind and may even lead to high rates of youth unemployment or violence as we have seen too many times. It is all connected, and we need to invest in them — Chicago's young people, the FUTURE of our great city — on the front end."

The strategy of reverse mentorship honors and values the expertise of mentees and acknowledges traditional mentors have much to learn from younger people with social and racial identities different from theirs. The relationship is focused on mutual growth and development, fostering a new relationship, and helping each party see beyond their experience to gain new skills, perspectives and understanding. 

"Early exposure to employment strengthens confidence and bolsters professional connections that set young people on the path to high-quality careers," said Ellen Ray, CEO of Chicago Cares. "More than that, the future of our city depends on strengthening connections across our differences. Young people foster positive relationships with adults that open doors and yield opportunities. The adults who learn from them also gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the experiences of young people growing up on the South and West sides of Chicago. We believe that in forging these bonds we can ignite action that builds a more vibrant and equitable Chicago." 

The new community-focused paid internship program is designed to provide young people from the South and West communities with six weeks of dynamic experiences across multiple PepsiCo businesses in marketing, sales, operations, food service, and retail. Youth participants will benefit from corporate exposure, 1-on-1 mentoring, weekly projects and activities, and a capstone event. The Quaker Oats Company and PepsiCo Beverages North America teams in Chicago will work to advance this unique internship opportunity that is centered around leaning into Chicago's South and West Side talent and encouraging employees to think differently.

"I was fascinated by my first introduction to the corporate experience at PepsiCo, which I gained access to through a congressional fellowship program," said Rafael Hurtado, Associate Manager of Government and External Affairs at PepsiCo. "As a 23-year-old Public Policy Fellow sponsored by PepsiCo, I experienced firsthand the positive impact the private sector could have on communities like mine in Little Village. This planted the seed that I could have a corporate career that allows me to bring the voice of my community to lawmakers and bring resources to historically underinvested communities like PepsiCo is doing with grassroots leaders in the South and West Sides."

Understanding that community partners are imperative to the success of the pilot program, PepsiCo teamed up with local organizations including North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, Gray Matter Experience, Southwest Organizing Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters, After School Matters and Teamwork Englewood to design and execute the program. This included the guidance of Chicago Cares to ensure the program is rooted in young people's needs to maximize impact.

As PepsiCo helps to create economic opportunity in Black and Hispanic communities through its U.S. Racial Equality Journey Initiative, the company continues its work with local organizations including Ladies of Virtue, Girls in the Game, Imagine Englewood if and UCAN to provide meaningful career exposure experiences for students when school is out of session. for the third year in a row, PepsiCo is partnering with the Juneteenth Illinois Initiative by investing in its scholarship and mentorship program for college-bound students from Chicago's South and West Sides—expanding on the PepsiCo Foundation's existing scholarship programs with City Colleges of Chicago which has provided more than 170 Uplift and S.M.I.L.E. scholarships to date for Black and Hispanic Chicagoans to pursue their education in high-growth industries.

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 $86 billion in net revenue in 2022, driven by a complementary beverage and convenient foods portfolio that includes Lay's, Doritos, Cheetos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Quaker, and SodaStream. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Beverages and Convenient Foods by Winning with pep+ (PepsiCo Positive). pep+ is our strategic end-to-end transformation that puts sustainability and human capital at the center of how we will create value and growth by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for planet and people. For more information, visit, and follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn @PepsiCo. 

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

SOURCE PepsiCo, Inc.


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