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Michigan residents in the running for $1.3 million from Pepsi

Pepsi cans stacked at a local store
Pepsi cans stacked at a local store
APPhoto/Paul Sakuma

After spending over $142 million on Super Bowl ads in the past decade, this year Pepsi has decided to give that money to American communities instead. Their plan is to distribute $1.3 million, each month, to individuals and groups for ideas that will have a positive impact on their neighborhoods. Several Michigan residents and organizations hope to win one of the 32 grants Pepsi will award this month through their Pepsi Refresh Project.

Beginning February 1, Pepsi announced they would accept ideas submitted between 2/1 and 2/15, or 1,000 ideas, whichever came first. By mid-February, they had received 729 ideas in six categories: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education.

Of the 32 grants they will award for February, two are for $250,000, ten for $50,000, ten for $25,000 and ten for $5,000 each. In Michigan, and in the Ann Arbor area, there are residents in the running for each level of these awards.

In the $5,000 category is Brandy Woodall. She would like to work with the the four, Hanson's Running Shops in southeast Michigan to combat childhood obesity through running.

For the $25,000 grant, David Taylor wants to clean 25 miles of forest trails in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The $50,000 award would go a long way in helping the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program in Lansing. They strive to help American Indian and Alaskan Native children succeed.

For the $250,000 prize, two national organizations have submitted ideas and have ties to Ann Arbor.  Reach Out and Read  hopes to expand their programs if they win the grand prize. They work with volunteer doctors to promote school readiness. They currently distribute donated books to four, Ann Arbor health clinics.

The Freecycle Network, with 8,500 members in their Ann Arbor chapter, also hopes to win the $250,000 February prize. They've managed to keep 700 tons of waste, per day, from America's landfills.

Everyone over 13 is eligible to submit an idea. And we all have the opportunity to help our Ann Arbor and Michigan neighbors this month. Each person who logs on to the Pepsi Refresh Project site gets ten votes per day. Read the ideas from people like Brandy and David and groups like Reach Out and Read and the Freecycle Network. Then cast your vote for Michigan.

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