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HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUT RATES HALVED BY PEPSI CHALLENGE PROGRAM; SUCCESSFUL PILOT PROGRAMS IN DALLAS AND DETROIT

 HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUT RATES HALVED BY PEPSI CHALLENGE PROGRAM;
 SUCCESSFUL PILOT PROGRAMS IN DALLAS AND DETROIT
 SOMERS, N.Y., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the latest figures from the Federal Government, the national high school dropout rate remains stuck at 30 percent and the numbers rise dramatically in urban areas. Of those who do graduate, less than two-thirds go on to any form of post-secondary education. However, there is proof that the right kind of intervention can work to significantly reverse this troubling trend. An award-winning pilot program, the Pepsi School Challenge, is doing just that:
 At L.G. Pinkston High School in Dallas:
 -- The dropout rate has been cut in half in the three years of the Challenge program (from over 15 percent to approximately 8 percent);
 -- 83 percent of 1990-91 graduates went on to post-secondary education, up from 29 percent in 1989.
 -- Annual scholarship funding (including Pepsi grants) has increased from $169,000 to over $1 million.
 At Southwestern High School in Detroit:
 -- The total has declined by more than one-third in the three years of the Challenge program (from over 33 percent to 20 percent);
 -- 75 percent of 1990-91 graduates went on to post-secondary education, up from 60 percent in 1989.
 -- Annual scholarship funding (including Pepsi grants) has increased from just under $950,000 to almost $1.7 million. Southwestern is now the third highest scholarship recipient in the city.
 About to enter its fourth year in these two high schools, the Pepsi School Challenge provides financial incentives for students to work toward graduation by enabling them to amass financial credits from $250 to $2000.
 The challenge program, conceived of and funded by Pepsi-Cola Company (NYSE: PEP), is simple in its structure, consisting of just two key components: financial incentives, which provide students with measurable success in the short term; and a mentoring system, which provides support and guidance beyond the classroom.
 Since its launch in 1989, over 2,700 students have participated in the Pepsi School Challenge and, collectively, have earned over $1,350,000 in Pepsi scholarship money. At the conclusion of the pilot program in 1995, it is anticipated that this figure will top the $2 million mark.
 While the Pepsi program figures are impressive, they tell only half the story. The real impact of the program is the difference it has made to the current lives and future opportunities of the participating students:
 -- Alicia Martinez graduated first in the Pinkston class of '91 with over $273,000 in scholarship funds. Alicia, the first in her family to graduate from high school, is one of four children.
 -- Cacendra Washington is in the twelfth grade. Although Cacendra wanted to drop out, with her mother's encouragement and the structure of the Pepsi Challenge, she remained in school and is now second in her class of 150-plus students.
 -- Taniqua Carter, a 1991 graduate of Southwestern and president of her senior class, received over $200,000 in scholarship money. A single mother at 14, she represents the first generation of her immediate family to attend college.
 -- Jalen Rose, another 1991 Southwestern graduate, in attending the University of Michigan on full scholarship. He captained his high school basketball team and served as an officer of the National Honor Society at Southwestern.
 The program, which is independently administered by the Citizen's Scholarship Foundation of America (CSFA), a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in St. Peter, Minnesota, provides a method of establishing a base, tracking students' progress and then translating this into measurable results:
 -- At each school, 50 teachers sign up as program mentors and every Pepsi "Challenger" is assigned to one. In addition to school-related subjects, the mentoring program includes extra-curricular activities. The success of the Pepsi program's mentoring component is best summed up by this student: "My mentor is no longer just my teacher; my mentor is now my friend."
 -- Parents and guardians are encouraged to become more involved. At L.G. Pinkston High School in Dallas, a "Pepsi Parent's Center" has been created.
 -- Employees from the local Pepsi bottling companies volunteer their time as mentors and "real life" role models;
 -- Local companies are also encouraged to step up to the Pepsi Challenge by undertaking supplementary programs.
 Charles Fisher, principal of L.G. Pinkston High School, credits the Pepsi program with having increased the scholarship pool of the graduating class from about $160,000 three years ago, to over $1 million in 1992. He has voluntarily postponed his retirement by two years in order to see the Pepsi Challenge pilot program through to its completion.
 Betty Hines, principal of Southwestern High School in Detroit is equally enthusiastic: "We have found that students enrolled in the Pepsi program are giving more back to the community through volunteer work."
 The flexibility of the program enables the schools to serve as "positive agents of change" by developing their own solutions to the specific challenges faced by their student communities. Ultimately, students, teachers, school and community all benefit.
 According to Rebecca Madeira, director of public relations for Pepsi-Cola Company, "Results from both schools have far exceeded our expectations. Because the program is cost-effective and the results are quantifiable, we believe the Pepsi School Challenge is an excellent model for school partnership programs."
 In 1992, the Pepsi School Challenge was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor with a "LIFT" award for the company's efforts to prepare the work force of tomorrow.
 The Pepsi School Challenge program offers the largest financial award ever granted to a public high school by a U.S. corporation. By completion of the program in 1995, Pinkston and Southwestern students are expected to have earned over $2 million in scholarship funding from Pepsi-Cola Company.
 Pepsi-Cola Company, based in Somers, New York, is a division of PepsiCo. Inc., Purchase, New York.
 -0- 9/3/92
 /CONTACT: Amy Sherwood of Pepsi-Cola, 914-767-7225, or Phil Fried or Martha Harris of The Dilenschneider Group, 212-922-0900, for Pepsi- Cola/
 (PEP) CO: Pepsi-Cola Company ST: New York IN: FOD SU:


LD-TM -- NY003 -- 6232 09/03/92 08:15 EDT
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Date:Sep 3, 1992
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