Frito-Lay North America is making a significant investment in Southern Dallas

by Ginni Beam | Special Contributor

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, is launching a major initiative to make meaningful improvements in communities across Southern Dallas.

The Basics of Southern Dallas Thrives

Southern Dallas Thrives is a direct response to the needs felt in some of the city’s most traditionally underserved neighborhoods. Nearly 30 percent of Southern Dallas residents live in poverty, more than 90 percent of the students living in Southern Dallas are classified as disadvantaged, and more than 45 percent of Southern Dallas children are not kindergarten-ready.

However, these statistics only tell part of the story. “Children who lack high-quality learning experiences in the first five years of life are often two to three years behind their peers when entering kindergarten,” says Susan Hoff, chief strategy, impact and operations officer, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Southern Dallas Thrives will provide support services to parents and improve the quality of and access to child care, enabling mothers from underserved Southern Dallas communities to enter the workforce.”Southern Dallas Thrives

The program will identify primary areas of need and make a positive impact on multiple fronts. In addition to childcare and student success, points of focus will include access to nutritious food, job training, workforce development and financial stability. Further, the Southern Dallas Thrives website will provide ongoing volunteer opportunities at agencies and school programs in Southern Dallas that are already working hard to achieve those goals.

According to Vivek Sankaran, president, chief operating officer, Frito-Lay North America, “Frito-Lay and PepsiCo believe focusing our community-giving efforts will make a meaningful difference in a part of our city in which we work and live. Our goal is to help create opportunity across generations and create paths to careers and growth for the people of Southern Dallas.”

Extending a Valuable Partnership

Southern Dallas Thrives also looks to leverage a strategy employed by Frito-Lay’s partner of 40 years, United Way. The ongoing work in Southern Dallas focuses on United Way’s priority areas of education, income and health: the essential components of any thriving community. As innovative as it promises to be, Frito-Lay’s new initiative will complement and build on United Way’s accomplishments, using the agency’s existing network and experience in Southern Dallas to match volunteers, allocate funds and — perhaps most importantly — track how the program is making a difference.

Nearly 6,500 Frito-Lay and PepsiCo D-FW employees will be the driving force behind Southern Dallas Thrives. That’s the highest concentration of employees for the company in any U.S. metropolitan area. In addition, almost 25 percent of these associates live or work in or near Southern Dallas in a variety of roles at distribution centers, warehouses and manufacturing plants.

“My family and I love being a part of the Southern Dallas community,” says Laura Corkery, senior manager, manufacturing strategy business process, Frito-Lay North America. “We have so many generous, uplifting and passionate neighbors with a genuine desire to overcome the disparity in opportunity for many Southern Dallas residents. I know that, with the right level of support and investment in creating long-term opportunities, the people of Southern Dallas will be a critical component of both the community and PepsiCo’s ability to thrive for years to come.”

What Success Means for Southern Dallas Thrives

Given the critical impact early childhood development has on any individual’s long-term success and well-being, Southern Dallas Thrives will prioritize childcare and early education. Over the next three years, the PepsiCo Foundation will provide $600,000 to early childhood centers in Southern Dallas. The grant, to be administered by United Way, will go toward increasing kindergarten readiness, primarily by strengthening the teams who work with pre-K students. That means offering training and professional development for childcare center directors, caregivers and staff, as well as providing educational resources and engagement support for parents, as they play a crucial role in their children’s success.

Frito-Lay anticipates that employee giving and matching gifts to the United Way will total $1.5 million, bringing the company’s total investment in Southern Dallas up to $2 million. Support from individual donors and the broader community in D-FW will only further the program’s reach and deepen its impact. The hope is for anyone — not just PepsiCo and Frito-Lay employees and volunteers — to dedicate their resources to volunteer opportunities in the Southern Dallas area through SouthernDallasThrives.com.

Ultimately, Frito-Lay hopes to make that money go a long way. Within the first three to five years, Southern Dallas Thrives plans to:

  • Serve 1 million meals through Food for Good, PepsiCo’s signature nutrition operation that has delivered 80 million servings of nutritious foods to low-income families in 19 U.S. communities since 2009.
  • Increase kindergarten readiness by 10 percent by connecting volunteers with early childhood centers in Southern Dallas.
  • Improve the quality and accessibility of childcare to working mothers while giving 200 mothers opportunities to work by partnering with United Way agencies that target unemployed moms and provide mentorship, engagement activities, career access and funding support for daycare.
  • Help 85 percent of South Oak Cliff High School students graduate college or prepare to be career-ready through tutoring and mentoring efforts at South Oak Cliff Collegiate Academy.

Each resource and opportunity means a more positive future for citizens of Southern Dallas.

To learn more, and to see how you can partner with Plano’s Frito-Lay as part of this important initiative, visit SouthernDallasThrives.com.

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