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PepsiCo and Russell Westbrook Unveil New Student-Designed Lounge at Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design

PepsiCo and Russell Westbrook Unveil New Student-Designed Lounge at Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper on September 22, 2023

On Thursday, September 21, PepsiCo Design & Innovation and NBA All-Star and entrepreneur Russell Westbrook unveiled the student-designed Pepsi x Frito-Lay Refresh and Relax Lounge at Pensole Lewis College, the first and only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) dedicated to design.

Westbrook, who is also founder and creative director of his clothing brand Honor The Gift, partnered with PepsiCo to celebrate and reward students, united in a mission to create education and career opportunities for more youth. He joined Pensole Lewis founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, author Kevin Carroll and PepsiCo’s Kent Montgomery to inspire and encourage students to continue their creative journey, reinforcing the value of diverse talent in the design field.

“I’m so grateful to be part of a partnership that is inspiring young Black creatives and prioritizing their education - like the PepsiCo program at Pensole Lewis College. I share a mission with PepsiCo in wanting to create educational opportunities and provide valuable resources to young people who don’t always get the same support as their peers. Together, we want to inspire and encourage students to continue their creative journey and pursue a career in design,” said Russell Westbrook.

Pensole Lewis students Rodney Banks and Angel Buckens, whose winning lounge design was created and selected upon their completion of the inaugural PepsiCo Design & Innovation program with support from MillerKnoll, joined the speakers onstage.

The unveiling of the student lounge kicked off the fourth annual National Black Footwear Forum at Pensole Lewis that brought together footwear executives and professionals, policymakers, and supporters to collaborate, share stories, and explore how to establish industry goals in the development of Black talent at all levels in design. The four-day event included keynotes, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and activations to help bridge the gaps across the industry.

The event was part of PepsiCo Design & Innovation’s ongoing efforts to further diversity in design in the Detroit area and beyond, including:
* A $25,000 donation to Diversity in Design - a nonprofit organization with the mission of enhancing diversity across design industries by expanding educational, training and employment opportunities with a focus on Black creatives. The donation will provide 250 local Detroit high school students with hands-on experience that inspires creativity, showcases design careers, and provides a deeper understanding of the industry, driving awareness and access to the design field through education.


* Skill-building workshop for approximately 20 students from 7 Detroit high schools and organizations - Local students from School of Marygrove, Oakland Early College, Martin Luther King, Detroit Edison and University Prep Art & Design, Detroit Kappa League and Closing the Gap Detroit participated in the PepsiCo Design & Innovation and Pensole Lewis College Design Thinking workshop in partnership with Chicago Mobile Makers - a nonprofit organization that encourages youth to become advocates and changemakers in their own communities through design-focused skill-building workshops. As part of the workshop, PepsiCo designers shared stories of their creative journeys and students learned about the principles of design by working together to build and present prototypes to the group, broadening their understanding of the field.

“Our mission is to address the diversity gap in design and education across Detroit and beyond by providing students with opportunities to channel their creativity and explore a career in design. With the support of partners who share our mission, from Russell Westbrook to Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, we hope that by recognizing, rewarding, and engaging with students we can encourage more to become part of the next generation of designers,” said Kent Montgomery, Senior Vice President, Industry Relations and Multicultural Development, PepsiCo.

“With partners like PepsiCo using their resources to support and celebrate students at Pensole Lewis and local Detroit high schools, we’re able to demonstrate tangible impact for these students' and, ultimately, the wider design community,” said Pensole Lewis founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards. “This program is a reminder that there are many paths to take in the design world, all that could benefit from more diverse points of view.”

Attendees also joined in the celebratory block party following the lounge unveil, featuring food from Detroit Black-owned restaurants Yum Village and They Say Restaurant, with music from DJ Sky Jetta.

The PepsiCo and Pensole Lewis College partnership is in support of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey to address inequity, provide opportunity and bring meaningful change to diverse communities.


PHOTO(L-R): NBA All-Star and Entrepreneur Russell Westbrook, Pensole Lewis student Angel Buckens, Pensole Lewis student Rodney Banks and Pensole Lewis founder Dr. D'Wayne Edwards attend the unveil of the student-designed Pepsi x Frito-Lay Refresh and Relax Lounge at Detroit’s Pensole Lewis College, the first and only HBCU dedicated to design at Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design on September 21, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images for PepsiCo)

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