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Diversity Programs

Pathways to the Future

In December 2005, The Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) at Portland State University received a generous contribution from the PepsiCo Foundation to create a diversity component to our Center operations. The diversity initiative produced from this funding is called "Pathways to the Future". The following goals guide the development of the Pathways to the Future program:

  • Increase awareness of education and career opportunities in the food retail industry for students of diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds and low socio-economic households
  • Collaborate with established organizations that serve a diverse youth population, such as Upward Bound, Reaching and Empowering All People (REAP) and Project Plus
  • Increase the diversity of the student population in PSU's food management certificate program by:
    • Creating and maintaining relationships with regional high school and community college students through new and existing programs
    • Build partnerships with diverse student organizations affiliated with the university
    • Set up a structure in the FILC that supports diverse students' changing needs
    • Seek funding sources for scholarships based on diversity
    • Work with faculty to recognize the challenges of workforce issues and challenges faced by minority students
    • Work with industry partners to place minority graduates in corporate positions
  • Increase awareness among PSU students and faculty of diversity issues within the industry:
    • Build knowledge of demographic trends, industry challenges and opportunities
    • Build understanding of how the industry responds to diversity issues

Nicole Harris
Manager of Student Programs & Diversity

Nicole assists with recruitment, retention, advising, scholarships, outreach to potential employers for internships and employment opportunities, preparation of the Pathways to the Future quarterly reports, and cultivating partnerships between our office and the local community colleges, high schools and the Portland Metro communities.

Program activities include:

  • Building awareness by working with partner organizations which ensure that our efforts have a leveraged impact and build a credible level of awareness with students. Partner organizations include minority student organizations, off campus community, social and church organizations and business oriented leadership development groups.
  • A summer educational program that targets local high school students who are interested in majoring in business in college. The Summer Business Institute (SBI) is a four day program that provides interested students an overview of business and includes participatory "learning by doing" exercises and field trips. SBI is a unique opportunity for high school students to explore the world of business with Portland State faculty and local business leaders. The Institute focuses on diversity with the business community and sustainable practices here in Oregon and is specially designed for students with culturally diverse backgrounds allowing them to earn their 1st college credit for FREE. To learn more, visit:
  • Incorporation of high school counselors and advisors into such FILC industry events as our Fall Executive Forum and Student~Industry Connections Luncheon.
  • Business-specific career fairs that offer students a career-related introduction to leaders within the industry and give them viable networking for leads to internships and post-college positions.
  • Mentorship is an important aspect of the Pathways program. FILC student participants will partner with an executive who will coach them in the industry's intricacies and enhance their involvement in conferences and industry events. Extra effort is made to pair minority students with diverse executives at more senior levels of their organizations.
  • Career service offerings of the Pathways program expand those already offered by the FILC. Offerings include discussions on how to interact with executives and a discussion by executives of how they developed their leadership skills.
  • We have also developed a Diversity Leadership Workshop which incorporates diversity issues and enlist the collaboration of diverse industry leaders. Students spend most of the first day with a talking about leadership qualities and then taking a DISC assessment to see where their strengths as a leader fall and allows students to learn how they interact in different situations with different personality types. The first day ends with dinner and fun group of guests from On Your Feet-a consultancy that uses improvisation and other experimental techniques to help with creativity, public speaking and presentation skills. The second day is dedicated to exploring diversity as it relates to the workplace and individual roles in it.
  • We seek to leverage existing minority scholarships for students participating in the Pathways program. We will assist students in applying for a variety of university, industry and organizational scholarships. For example, with the support of the USDA we have awarded over $250, 000 in scholarship money to our students who are ethnically diverse. We have also helped our students win two of the three scholarships awarded nationally by the Network of Executive Women (NEW).
  • We continue to work with our corporate partners and industry to develop specialized scholarships and educational enhancement resources for diverse students. For example, in addition to traditional scholarships which typically only pay for tuition, books, etc., sponsorship funds can also be used to attend industry conferences and trade events. These "out-of-the-classroom" experiences are often a critical part of a student's development and serve to expose students to the industry and its leaders.

Industry Partners in Diversity

Pathways to the Future

The Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) at Portland State University received a generous contribution from the PepsiCo Foundation to create a diversity component to our Center operations. The diversity initiative produced from this funding is called "Pathways to the Future".


The following companies have generously contributed the funds necessary to meet the match challenge of the initial "Pathways to the Future" gift from the PepsiCo Foundation:


Fred Meyer



Diversity internship websites:

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