In an April issue of Gems, it was announced that the Peralta Colleges Foundation in partnership with The PepsiCo Foundation launched the Uplift Scholarship program to support our most underserved students of The Peralta Colleges, who are pursuing two-year degrees and professional certificate programs. In addition, to financial assistance, the program provides students with dedicated success coaches, access to emergency grants, and financial literacy courses. The PepsiCo Foundation’s Uplift Scholarship is currently offered at 20 community colleges across the country with the goal of providing 4,000 scholarships over five years. What’s more, the PepsiCo Foundation's Community College Program is a cornerstone effort of PepsiCo's more than $570 million Racial Equality Journey, a comprehensive initiative to support marginalized and historically underserved communities, people, and businesses.
The Uplift Scholarship Program came together thanks to the diligence and hard work by LaNiece Jones, the Executive Director of the Peralta Colleges Foundation, and representatives of the PepsiCo Foundation. The program's successful launch was celebrated with a reception that took place right before the September 13th Board of Trustees meeting, where Peralta was presented with a GIANT check – giant in amount as well as size!
During the reception, LaNiece Jones said, “On behalf of the Peralta Colleges family, we are so excited today to be in partnership with PepsiCo Foundation and excited to congratulate our PepsiCo Uplift scholars.”
In attendance at the presentation were a few PCCD students (of 75 scholars) already awarded some of the first scholarships in the program, Peralta Board of Trustees President Cindi Napoli-Abella Reiss, as well as members of The Peralta Colleges Foundation Board such as, Linda Handy, Adam Sanchez, Tasion Kwamilele, and Dyana Delfín Polk, along with some of the college presidents who sit on the Peralta Colleges Foundation Board – BCC president Angélica Garcia, Laney president Rudy Besikof, and Merritt President David Johnson. CoA Acting President Diana Bajrami was also in attendance. Also present were some elected and appointed officials, including two representatives from Assembly Member Bonta's office (Lisa Williams and Silin Huang) and a representative of Oakland City Council District Seven Councilmember Treva Reid’s office. PepsiCo Foundation representatives included Steven Cuellar, General manager of Northern California, Jonathan George from Houston, and Erica Edwards, Senior Vice President of the Supply Chain, from the Los Angeles area.
During the presentation, Erica Edwards – who told the crowd she hails from the Bay Area – said she was glad to be back. “Being in Northern California is something that's very important for me, and it's important to invest in the communities, diverse communities, that we live and work in, so I'm honored to be here today, to join you and actually to be able to have an opportunity to mingle with the students that are receiving these awards.” She announced that PepsiCo is investing about $40 million across the country, with “$500,000 for this particular community.”
Jonathan George from PepsiCo Foundation, who leads the grant-making efforts in North America – US and Canada – added, “My favorite program is the community college program that I get to help lead, and the reason I love it so much is that I was a former community college student; I can tell you that I would not be where I am if it wasn't for the support that I got from community college. So, it's really special to me to be able to support community colleges all throughout the country.”
Additionally, Mr. George told the crowd “We have a saying at the PepsiCo Foundation. Our motto is we feed potential. And let me tell you something. There's no better way that I think we can feed potential then supporting Peralta Colleges and the students here.”
Thank you’s went out to Chancellor Jackson and LaNiece Jones for the year-long work that went into bringing The Uplift program to PCCD, for as Ms. Jones stated in the April Gems: “The timing of the grant is particularly critical for the economic recovery for our most underserved students who are the leading population for putting their education and training on hold during the pandemic.”
New and current students can apply for the scholarship, which also includes support for programs that are not currently covered by federal student aid. Scholarship applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and eligible students can visit the Peralta Colleges Foundation’s website www.peraltafoundation.org for more information to apply.
View a short video on the celebration below: