Sustainability community program expands across Commonwealth with PepsiCo funds

Derek Bannister
October 05, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five Penn State campuses have been awarded PepsiCo Challenge Mini Grants to expand community engagement efforts through Penn State’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC). Penn State Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Behrend and Brandywine will take part in a three-year pilot program to expand the SCC to Penn State communities outside of University Park.

The SCC, a program of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, connects faculty, students and staff with local partners through sustainability projects in the community. Innovative collaborations are developed to engage Penn State faculty and students from across the University with real-world community-identified projects to meet the partnering community’s sustainability priorities.

“Our campuses have a long tradition and a lot of experience in working with their local communities on a variety of projects and initiatives,” said Michele Halsell, SCC director. “With PepsiCo’s support, we are expanding the SCC model to five campuses to focus on local sustainability challenges and opportunities.”

Through an initiative called Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo is focused on delivering sustainable growth while offering healthier food options, making PepsiCo's food system more sustainable and making communities more prosperous.

“This is a ground-breaking, private-public partnership that we have with Penn State,” said Bradley Schmitt, a Penn State alumnus who manages contracts with colleges and universities in PepsiCo’s Western Pennsylvania market. “We [PepsiCo] are always looking for opportunities to engage with the people that are living and working in the communities in which we are based.”

Halsell said there are some common themes and unique differences at each of the campuses.

“At Beaver, Behrend and Brandywine, the focus is on addressing food insecurity and expanding access to healthy, locally-grown produce,” said Halsell. “Penn State Altoona is leveraging the arts and humanities as an engine for sustainable economic activity. In Abington, the focus is on the economy and the environment with support for a ‘buy local’ campaign as well as initiatives aimed at reducing waste and promoting environmental justice within the community.”

A full list of projects at the five campuses and University Park can be found online at

For more information about the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, please contact Michele Halsell at

Last Updated September 20, 2019