$150K Scholarship By Frito-Lay Aims To Boost And Retain STEM Diversity

$150,000 Scholarship Donation By Frito-Lay Part of Move To Boost And Retain STEM Diversity

Lovely African Descent STEM student works on her Robotic science project for school. (IStock)

Hoping to help boost and retain the number of Black Americans in STEM-related fields, Frito-Lay Variety Packs is backing 50 girls to attend Space Camp over the next five years.

The snack-chip maker is donating $150,000 to set up the “Space For Her” Scholarship Fund. Another part of the fund is the “Space For Her” Mentorship Program. It is geared to offer coaching and guidance on different career paths in the science and tech sector from female leaders in the STEM field, including engineering, space exploration, and food science, to name a few.

This year, Frito-Lay, the National Urban League, and UnidosUS selected 12 Black and Latinx girls, ages 11 to 15, with a passion for STEM to be part of the inaugural class for the scholarship fund.

The action comes as space exploration and the STEM field have been sizzling topics recently. Though STEM fields are predicted to experience the highest growth in job numbers between now and 2030, only 28% of the STEM workforce is female, and just 7% is Black, and 6% is Latinx/Hispanic, per a news release.

The STEM workforce (science, technology, engineering, and math) has reportedly risen rapidly in recent decades. Yet Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in STEM jobs versus their share of the U.S. workforce, a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. government data shows.

It states the representation of women varies significantly across the job clusters that make up the STEM workforce. In health-related jobs, women are overrepresented versus their 47% share of the overall workforce, while they remain underrepresented in computing and engineering jobs.

Frito-Lay declares the scholarship fund and mentorship program are meant to help close the gap. Doritos Tortilla Chips, Lay’s Potato Chips, and Cheetos are among the products made by the company.

“Getting girls excited about STEM is just one piece of the puzzle,” Marissa Solis, senior vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, stated. “We need to address the issue of retaining them in this field by giving more access to programs, mentors, and resources.”