PepsiCo and Pensole Lewis College Enter Partnership to Increase Diversity in Design

PepsiCo and the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (PLC) have unveiled a three-year partnership to help increase diverse representation in design.

The two entities this week unveiled the first step in their partnership by revealing the winning entry in a recent design challenge. Pensole students competed to create a design for a new student lounge on campus of the Historically Black College or University (HBCU), along with support from PepsiCo’s design and innovation team. The winning students’ design, belonging to Pensole Lewis students Rodney Banks and Angel Buckens, was revealed this week and will be constructed this summer with support from PepsiCo and MillerKnoll. Banks and Buckens will also receive a 10-week summer apprenticeship with the PepsiCo team in New York City.

NBA star Russell Westbrook, who was enlisted to help support the program, will unveil the new lounge once it is completed.

The program represents the latest move for Pensole, which works with a slew of brands and technology companies to bolster its curriculum and amplify diverse voices. Earlier this week, Pensole and Logitech unveiled a long-term partnership to outfit students at the design college with the latest technologies for their education. Pensole also recently entered into a partnership with foot scanning technology company Aetrex, which donated its premier 3D foot scanner Albert 2 Pro to the school to assist designers in the fit and creation process. Pensole has also inked deals with Capri and VF Corp. for diversity-focused masterclasses with professionals from these companies.

“In developing this program, PepsiCo made it clear they shared Pensole Lewis’s mission in making the design field more accessible by creating more opportunities within it,” said PLC founder and footwear industry veteran Dr. D’Wayne Edwards in a statement.

PepsiCo is supporting this program via its Racial Equality Journey, which includes a more than $400 million investment over five years to support Black-owned businesses and communities and increase Black representation at PepsiCo.

“Our partnership with Pensole Lewis is about providing resources to help address the barriers that specifically hinder Black talent from entering a career in design. By giving students access to some of the industry’s best designers at PepsiCo, we can offer valuable resources and mentorship for the next generation of creatives,” said SVP and chief design officer at PepsiCo Mauro Porcini.

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