PepsiCo And Pensole Lewis College Of Business And Design Kick-Off Three-Year Partnership

New Program Provides Mentorship, Apprenticeships, Resources and Support for Black Aspiring Designers, With First Student Design To Be Unveiled by NBA Star Russell Westbrook

DETROIT, March 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, PepsiCo and Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design celebrate the first step in their three-year partnership to develop Black designers and increase representation in the design industry. PepsiCo is revealing the work from its inaugural program at Pensole Lewis, the first and only Historically Black College or University dedicated to design, which tasked students to create a new student lounge on campus. Designers from the PepsiCo Design & Innovation team and MillerKnoll mentored Pensole Lewis students through the design process, a precursor to how PepsiCo will invest in bringing the winning concept to life this summer with support from MillerKnoll. In addition, PepsiCo teamed up with NBA star Russell Westbrook, who was inspired by the program and shares its mission to create opportunities for the community, to further amplify the effort and unveil the completed lounge on campus.

“Education has always been a cause I’ve been passionate about. I’m proud to partner with PepsiCo to give Pensole Lewis students the recognition they deserve for their hard work and creativity,” said Westbrook, who also shared a congratulatory pre-recorded message with students.

With studies showing that Black designers account for only 3% of the industry1, PepsiCo and Pensole Lewis’s larger partnership aims to address the diversity gap by providing students access to invaluable resources. The program looks to create opportunities for students through mentoring with PepsiCo professionals, one-of-a-kind apprenticeships, and creating a pipeline for job recruitment.

Pensole Lewis students Rodney Banks and Angel Buckens were selected for their winning design for the Pepsi Stronger Together Relax and Refresh Lounge. Guided by the knowledge and experience of PepsiCo and MillerKnoll designers throughout the process, students were assessed for how the space embodied key elements that united design principles and functional elements including branding, vending equipment, workstations, furniture from the MillerKnoll collective of brands, and more. The lounge space will be dedicated to a close friend and mentor of Pensole Lewis Founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, Author Kevin Carroll, who helped to inspire Dr. Edwards to start the Pensole brand.

“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 Mauro Porcini, SVP and Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. “To drive innovation, we must create a pipeline for more diverse perspectives and backgrounds to enter the design field. Our hope is that through education, inspiration, and recruitment, PepsiCo’s program with Pensole Lewis will champion that.”

Porcini was one of several mentors sharing their feedback on students’ final lounge concepts, joined by Pensole Lewis Founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, a former JORDAN Brand Footwear Design Director spearheading Pensole Lewis’s efforts to expand diversity in the industry; MillerKnoll SVP of Global Real Estate, Architecture and Development Matthew Stares, an executive at one of the world’s most renowned collective of design brands that is also providing product for the lounge; and radio personality Angela Yee, who has brought her own developed eye for design to Detroit real estate.

“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 Dr. D’Wayne Edwards. “We’ve seen the success that comes with opening students’ eyes to new career paths in the industry and unlocking more ways they can apply their talents. With programs backed by partners that have the scale and breadth of PepsiCo and MillerKnoll, we can push the industry forward by developing, training, and shaping the next generation of talented Black designers.”

In addition, PepsiCo also awarded design apprenticeships to Rodney and Angel. The students will participate in 10-week summer apprenticeships with the PepsiCo Design & Innovation team in New York City and gain invaluable work experience collaborating across different design disciplines and design projects through concept development, refinement, and execution.

This partnership is in support of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey, a more than $400 million investment over five years, to increase Black representation at PepsiCo, support Black-owned businesses, and create economic opportunities in those communities.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $86 billion in net revenue in 2022, driven by a complementary beverage and convenient foods portfolio that includes Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Quaker, and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Beverages and Convenient Foods by Winning with pep+ (PepsiCo Positive). pep+ is our strategic end-to-end transformation that puts sustainability and human capital at the center of how we will create value and growth by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for planet and people. For more information, visit, and follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn @PepsiCo.

About Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design

Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design is the pipeline for career education and professional development in the design industry. We are the source for creative vision and progress; bearing the torch to push the culture forward — beyond what’s visible. At Pensole Lewis College, we offer a new path to break into the world of product creation. We prepare the largest talent pool of designers to enter the industry empowering them to make it better for the next generation, leaving our industry better than when we entered it.

About MillerKnoll 

MillerKnoll is a collective of dynamic brands that comes together to design the world we live in. MillerKnoll brand portfolio includes Herman Miller, Knoll, Colebrook Bosson Saunders, DatesWeiser, Design Within Reach, Edelman Leather, Fully, Geiger, HAY, Holly Hunt, KnollTextiles, Maars Living Walls, Maharam, Muuto, NaughtOne, and Spinneybeck|FilzFelt.  MillerKnoll is an unparalleled platform that redefines modern for the 21st century by building a more sustainable, equitable and beautiful future for all.