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A 'Flip' Chat With...Liz Dwyer, Ambassador of Education, Pepsi Refresh Project

September 17, 2010

(This is the seventh in our series of "Flip" chats with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can find others here, including our last one, with The Economist's New York bureau chief Matthew Bishop.)

Since January, hundreds of nonprofit organizations and individuals have become agents of change in their communities with support from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Through the contest, which Pepsi is conducting in partnership with GOOD, Global Giving, and DoSomething.org, anyone can submit an idea in one of six categories: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education. At the end of each month, the ideas with the most votes win a portion of $1.3 million.

While a number of questions have been raised about the Refresh project (How is Pepsi measuring the impact of the grants? Is the competition engineered to reward popularity over merit?), the project has succeeded in creating a great deal of buzz -- for Pepsi as well as around online giving contests in general -- and has provided much-needed financial support for a lot of worthy causes.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with Liz Dwyer, ambassador of education for the project, to talk about the project and how Pepsi is measuring its impact. With more than fifteen years of experience in the field of education, Dwyer also shared her thoughts about what we need to do to increase graduation rates and teacher effectiveness.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)

(Total running time: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

Last week, Pepsi announced that it will expand the project in 2011 to Europe, Latin America, and Asia, as well as continue to fund it in the U.S. and Canada. What do you think about the Refresh project and the company's decision to expand it? Are there any problem's with the model that need to be addressed before it goes global? And is this a model that other multinational corporations should be emulating? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

-- Regina Mahone

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