Student seeks Pepsi grant

By Kay Nguyen

Less than a dozen Michigan organizations have been able to snag Pepsi Refresh grants, but sophomore secondary education major Taylor Kosnik hopes that her idea will get people to vote.

Kosnik wants to bring school supplies to 30 special needs classrooms in the metro Detroit area through the $10,000 grant she’s applied for from PepsiCo.

The Pepsi Refresh Project, which began last year, doles out grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 monthly. Adjustments to last year’s requirements have helped Kosnik set her plan into motion this year.

“People who don’t have nonprofit status and younger individuals have a better chance,” Kosnik said. “There are more grants and it makes it more easy for people who don’t have a big organization behind them to get their idea in.”

Applicants must complete a lengthy questionnaire. Each month, the top 100 ideas in each dollar bracket are promoted to be voted upon via text message or on the Pepsi website at

Voting for this cycle, which Kosnik’s idea is competing in, ends May 31. She’s named it United Giving Projects.

Kosnik is the philanthropy chair of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority and said she was inspired by her two siblings when she created this project.

“I was always seeing some of the things I thought the students needed while I was in my brother and sister’s classrooms,” Kosnik said. “Access to the resources they needed weren’t there.”

Kosnik is studying Spanish and sociology at Oakland University, but has been “working for a while to start a nonprofit” and believes the Pepsi project is the best way to get “everything started.”

Her twin siblings have autism and participate in programs put on by the OU Center for Autism Research, Education and Support.

She’s also a “big volunteer with the Macomb Autism Society.”

Kosnik said she found out about the Pepsi Refresh Project through one of the company’s TV advertisements.

If her idea isn’t successful this month, she has to begin the application process all over again.

The top 15 ideas in the $10,000 division will earn grants to implement their ideas.

As of press time, Kosnik was in twelfth place. She’ll be the first OU student to win a grant if her idea pans out.

“I’m kind of surprised and was really appreciative for all the support,” Kosnik said.

She said the campus community has supported her in her endeavor.

“It’s the benefit of being involved at OU,” Kosnik said of her idea’s wide success. “You gain so many connections and people who send your idea along.”

Former student body president Kristin Dayag said she sees Kosnik as a natural-born leader. They were initiated into Alpha Delta Pi at the same time.

“In the sorority itself, she always takes on a role and as the philanthropy chair shows a lot of compassion and believes that [charity] is one of the most important symbols of a sorority,” Dayag said. “She cares a lot and she’s always had a passion for it ever since she was little.”

Dayag described Kosnik as a genuine person. She said she’s using social media to help Kosnik get the word out about United Giving Projects.

She said she’s also received a lot of support from teachers whose classrooms will be affected by the grant. Kosnik said she hasn’t chosen 30 specific classrooms yet, but would consider “any school in metro Detroit.”

She said if she were to win, she plans on personalizing the gifts made to each classroom.

“I don’t want to give every classroom the same thing because they don’t all need the same items,” Kosnik said. “I want to adopt a project in each classroom so they can have a wishlist that includes sensory integration items, communication devices, academic learning materials and specific items like community learning passes.”

Dayag, who recently graduated with degrees in public administraiton and international relations, said she hopes to work together with Kosnik to “make a great change.”

Voters can view and vote daily for ideas in the running, including Kosnik’s, at or text 105826 to 73774 (PEPSI). More information about United Giving Projects can be found at