Sodexo Scholarship-The Orlando Times

The Orlando Times

Sodexo Scholarship

Sodexo Awards Scholarship to Frontline Workers and Their Dependents

BY JALESSA NEAL, TIMES STAFF WRITER

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Dianne Fox, Director, Strategic Planning & Program Management, Sodexo, was a Howard University student.

Sodexo launched a $10M scholarship program for its U.S frontline employees and their dependents to attend HBCUs. Their employees can apply for scholarships to receive up to $12,000 for tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

In the fall of 2020, Sodexo’s Universities CEO at the time, Tom Post, pitched an idea of a scholarship program for employees to demonstrate Sodexo's commitment to its employees and to the communities where they work and live. He pitched the idea to Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel. It was resoundingly accepted, and they immediately started planning.

The idea was then brought to Sodexo’s Diversity Leadership Committee and they excitedly bounced around ideas until deciding to partner with UNCF for the scholarship program.

“At the very beginning of this process we were looking for partners to help us manage it. How can we help our frontline employees when we have between 70-80,000,” said Brett Wheat-Simms, Director, HR Business Partner, Sodexo North America. “How can we help them to achieve their educational dreams? And so, every decision that we made has been geared towards that vision.”

They did a lot of research with UNCF before deciding on an award amount. They settled on up to $12,000 a year for a full-time student and up to $6,000 a year for a part time student. They are proud to note that the Sodexo scholarship is one of the highest awarding scholarships managed by UNCF.

This will prove to be a benefit to Central Florida, as Sodexo employs some 1,432 Floridians that serve in their Universities segment alone. Not to mention, Sodexo also owns several companies such as Comfort Keepers and Centerplate whose employees are also eligible for the scholarship.

“First and foremost, it's about removing barriers that, not only our employees, but oftentimes many would be students have in furthering their education. Sodexo is committed to absolutely supporting our frontline employees and we're always looking for different ways to help them stay ahead,” said Stephanie Payne, Chief Human Resources Officer, Sodexo North America.

The scholarship is only applicable for those attending or planning to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). They are focusing on the 27 schools that make up their HBCU partners and the HBCU partners of UNCF, which includes Edward Waters College and Bethune-Cookman University. They would love to add more to that list.

According to their records, they have 15,000 employees, and their dependents, in the U.S. that live close to or around HBCUs.

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, a national, or a permanent resident, additionally, there are GPA requirements for part-time and full-time students. Applicants must be a high school graduate, have a GED, or currently be enrolled as an undergraduate. Employees must have a minimum of one year of service with Sodexo to qualify themselves and their dependents. Traditional scholarship requirements such as transcripts, an essay, and letters of recommendation are expected.

“The application is broken up into two parts. The first part is the call to action, getting as many people to apply as are interested. Part two we get into the actual selection process. We're incredibly excited to be getting close to the end so that we can start working towards awards,” said Wheat-Simms.

The deadline to apply is April 15th.

To find out more information visit UNCF.org. Employees will also have access via their employee Sodexo link.  

“We are incredibly excited about the program and the benefits that it's going to bring to our frontline employees and their families,” said Payne. “It's a critical step to success for many and it's our hope that this program helps our employees and their family members achieve their lifelong goals and dreams.”