On December 17, 2021, PepsiCo announced $175,000 in additional grants to the next round of community partners as part of the Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP). The grants are aimed at increasing access to high-quality careers among the 3,000 youth that live in Chicago’s South and West sides.
The announcement of the second round of grants reinforces PepsiCo’s commitment to sustainable investment in the future of Chicago and in high-quality careers and new opportunities for the city’s youth. Launched in October 2021 and co-designed with Chicago community leaders, PREP is PepsiCo’s $5 million initiative to empower and increase access to high-quality careers among nearly 3,000 Black and Hispanic young people in Chicago’s South and West Sides.
PREP’s newest community partners in action include Girls in the Game, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, Step Up and Teamwork Englewood.
The adverse impacts of COVID-19 are disproportionately impacting young people of color and Black and Hispanic youth were 2.2 and 1.8 times more likely, respectively, to report experiencing racial discrimination compared to white youth within the world of work according to The Yes Project’s The State of Youth Employment 2021 Report. As an employer of nearly 5,000 neighbors in the Chicagoland area, PepsiCo is working to build a pipeline of talent from historically underinvested communities through career exposure, paid mentorship and credentialing and hiring efforts. As part of that, PREP’s second round of grantees includes:
• Big Brothers Big Sisters Chicago:
Continuing an 11-year collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters, PepsiCo will support experience-based career explorations and outings for mentees living on the South and West Sides, providing opportunities to discuss career options and goal setting through structured programming and organic conversations.
• Step Up: PepsiCo will continue its support of Step Up with funding that creates career readiness activities and hands-on professional experiences with PepsiCo employees.
• Teamwork Englewood: PepsiCo’s support will build capacity for in-demand job readiness tools in Teamwork Englewood’s existing youth programs, including career exposure and paid internship activities.
• Girls in the Game: PepsiCo is proud to continue a 13-year partnership with Girls in the Game to support their After School Middle School and Teen programs. Enhanced programming will include Leader-to-Leader Interviews, professional and career exposure programming, and PepsiCo employee volunteer opportunities with girls-led community service activities.
“Girls in the Game’s partnership with PepsiCo is our longest-standing partnership,” said Meghan Morgan, Executive Director of Girls in the Game. “It has endured because of PepsiCo’s deep commitment to supporting Chicago communities that need it most and their desire to develop meaningful, impactful volunteer opportunities for their employees. Through their support of Girls in the Game’s teen programs, more teens will be able to gain the valuable leadership opportunities they need to grow into strong, confident leaders who will make a difference in the world.”
“PepsiCo is committed to stimulating long-term economic growth in our South and West Side communities,” said Neil Pryor, President of PepsiCo Beverages North America, Central Division. “Our investment in career exposure, paid internships, credentialing and hiring is designed to support workforce readiness in underinvested neighborhoods by helping to build a pipeline of talent which one day, might bring their skills to our team.”
PREP’s initial programming was announced in October 2021 with leading community-based organizations Cubs Charities, Chicago Jesuit Academy, Imagine Englewood if, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and UCAN. Through the grant received in September, SWOP is currently developing a work readiness program through a leadership development lens that considers many of the needs and barriers of residents of the South Side of Chicago.
The organization plans to serve 175 young people, connecting them to work readiness training, job placement, career pathway programs, and more.