Local Manufacturer Helps Underprivileged Students Achieve Educational and Career Goals

Manufacturers occupy a central role in strengthening the economy of Florida as the state is
home to some of the most trusted names in the manufacturing industry. Leaders like Tropicana play an important role in enhancing the fabric of local communities. Tropicana, owned by PepsiCo Inc., is an American multinational company and considered a global leader in the production and marketing of branded fruit juices (Source: www.tropicana.com). As part of this commitment, the company owns several initiatives reinforcing its role as a responsible corporate citizen.

The Bradenton Mosaic Academy at Palmetto High School in Palmetto, FL is one such
initiative established in 2011 by the PepsiCo Mosaic Employee Resource Group (ERG), a predominantly African-American ERG at Tropicana’s Bradenton, Florida site. Lillian Elliott, director for Supply Chain Quality & Organization Capability, says “the ERG group represents PepsiCo’s strategic initiative to foster growth and development of the local community.” Over the course of two years, the Academy has made significant strides in impacting high school students in the community. Each year 12 sophomore students are enrolled in the Academy and in May 2013 the first class of ten juniors completed their first year.  The second class of 12 was inducted in April 2013.

Mentors, comprising of six PepsiCo/Tropicana ERG members coach and council students
throughout the academic year helping students prepare for graduation and continuing their education. From basic social skills such as shaking hands and introductions to writing college application essays, setting goals, imbibing professional etiquette, developing presentation skills and applying for scholarships, students develop a better understanding of what’s required to be successful. In addition to its partnership with Palmetto High School, the PepsiCo Mosaic ERG also provides a six-week summer mentorship program for students ages 11-15 at the 13th Avenue Community Center in Bradenton. The program has been in effect for the past 14 years.  

Mentors include senior executives as well as employees from finance, manufacturing, quality, logistics, sales and human resources. Subject matter varies each year and can range from
entrepreneurship to roles in manufacturing, health and wellness and financial responsibility. Senior executives provide coaching in project management, strategic planning and presentation skills. During the program, students are given the opportunity to compete in an environment reflective of a realistic business. At the conclusion, students present business results to mentors, senior leadership and ERG Leaders. A winning team is selected based on product sales, weekly presentations and adherence to program requirements. 

The 13th Ave Community Center director has identified this program as a best practice.  “We will continue to do what we are doing, to meet the need of the students” Elliott said. The student’s return rate for participation is 70% with some students enrolled in the program for as long as five years. For more information on Tropicana’s Mosaic Academy visit www.tropicana.com or contact Lillian Elliot, Director Supply Chain Quality at Tropicana at lillian.j.elliott@pepsico.com.