Contact: Danielle Tarr

New Grant Will Help More Than 64,000 Low-Income Students
Stay on Track to Graduate from High School 

Purchase, N.Y., and Boston – The PepsiCo Foundation announced it is increasing its commitment to Diplomas Now, a proven approach that helps the toughest middle and high schools in America’s largest cities ensure that students graduate and are ready for college or career.

The new $5 million brings the PepsiCo Foundation’s total investment to $16.1 million in a model that improves a school’s curriculum and instruction and implements an early warning system with enhanced student support to provide students with the right support at the right time. In 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation became the founding investor in Diplomas Now, which started that year with one pilot school in Philadelphia. Today, the program serves 31,000 primarily African-American and Latino students in 40 schools in 14 cities from New York City to Los Angeles and Miami to Seattle. The new grant will help serve an additional 33,000 students and support Diplomas Now operations through 2016-2017, enabling the extension of a major, independent evaluation of the model.

“Diplomas Now offers a unique and compelling solution to America’s education crisis,” said Kristina Mangelsdorf, Senior Director of the PepsiCo Foundation. “We are pleased to deepen our relationship and increase our commitment to this promising program that increases student achievement and keeps young people on the path to graduation.” 

Diplomas Now was one of the inaugural winners of a $30 million U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation grant in 2010. Diplomas Now is implementing the nation’s largest randomized control trial of middle and high school turnaround. The new PepsiCo Foundation grant, which was announced at City Year’s National Leadership Summit in Boston, will help extend that study through the 2016-2017 school year and will provide data from three graduating classes that went through four years of the program. Initial results will be released in September 2015, followed by a second report in December 2017 and a final report in fall 2018.

“This study provides a ground-breaking opportunity to influence policy for turning around low-performing schools and creating quality new schools,” said Robert Balfanz, a research scientist at Johns Hopkins who launched Diplomas Now. “The PepsiCo Foundation’s contribution will help us to continue this important study and fundamentally change the way young people are educated in our country. The PepsiCo Foundation's commitment is an example of the kind of public-private partnerships our schools need to help develop the next generation of workers and leaders.”

In addition to the new funding, PepsiCo employees will continue to mentor students at Diplomas Now schools and play an active role in their education. For example, PepsiCo employees meet with students during report card conferences to discuss how their daily decisions affect their attendance, behavior and course performance. In addition, employees may help students with their college applications.

Diplomas Now is a collaboration among three experienced national nonprofits:

  • Johns Hopkins University’s Talent Development Secondary, a school reform model that improves instruction and performance.
  • City Year’s in-school, “near peer” AmeriCorps members who provide school-wide and targeted academic, student engagement and after-school supports.
  • Communities In Schools’ site coordinators who connect students needing the greatest support with community resources.

Diplomas Now is based on research by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for the Social Organization of Schools showing that 75 percent of all eventual dropouts can be identified between sixth grade and ninth grade by monitoring “off-track” indicators, including poor attendance, behavior and course failure in English or math. Diplomas Now monitors these indicators and responds at the first warning sign with strategies tailored to individual students’ needs. During the 2012-2013 school year, at the 32 schools participating in the study, Diplomas Now achieved a:

  • 41% reduction in students with less than 85% attendance
  • 70% reduction in suspended students
  • 69% reduction in students failing English
  • 52% reduction in students failing math

In addition, Diplomas Now kept 90 percent of all students who began the year without problems in attendance, behavior and course performance on track for the rest of the school year by providing the right supports. 



 About PepsiCo Foundation

Established in 1962, the PepsiCo Foundation is the philanthropic anchor of PepsiCo, Inc. responsible for providing charitable contributions to eligible non-profit organizations. The PepsiCo Foundation is committed to developing sustainable partnerships and programs in underserved regions that provide opportunities for improved health, environment and education. For more information, visit:  


About PepsiCo


PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2013, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth in shareholder value. In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment and reduce our operating costs; providing a safe and inclusive workplace for our employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where we operate. For more information, please visit


Diplomas Now is a proven approach that helps the toughest middle and high schools in America’s largest cities ensure every student graduates ready for college or career. It is the first fully integrated approach that improves a school’s curriculum and instruction as it provides the right students with the right support to accomplish the right results. For more information, visit


City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England.


Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and succeed in life. Based directly inside schools throughout the country, Communities In Schools connects students and their families to critical community resources, tailored to local needs. Communities In Schools has become the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to both decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates.


Talent Development Secondary is a program at Johns Hopkins University that specializes in research and comprehensive school reform models to address off-track indicators and improve student achievement. The program provides an evidence-based school improvement model for grades 6-12 and focuses on organizational, instructional, and teacher support reforms designed to make the whole school more effective.