In one of the first public, tangible efforts to move the conversation forward when it comes to diversity in Colorado’s brewing industry, Station 26 Brewing is providing $10,000 in seed funding for a new scholarship at Regis University’s applied craft brewing certificate program.
The For You For All Diversity in Craft Beer Scholarship will provide financial support to “underrepresented students,” the brewery says, including people of color, but also women, LGBTQ students and other typically marginalized groups. The school’s part-time program is designed for working adults and includes basic brewing classes, a brewery internship, chemistry labs and lectures from industry experts. Tuition is roughly $9,500.
"We recognize and empathize with the heartbreak, fear, anger, frustration, confusion, indignation and powerlessness that many feel as a result of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others,” the brewery writes. “We asked ourselves what we could do in our space to make a difference. Our goal in establishing this scholarship is to take steps toward a more diverse workforce in the craft brewing industry in Colorado. We believe that increased diversity and access to brewing jobs for underrepresented individuals will lead to greater creativity and engagement and will enable Colorado’s craft beer community to contribute to the systemic change our country needs.”
Station 26 owner Justin Baccary says he hopes that industry colleagues, partners, vendors, friends and customers can raise another $40,000, at which point the scholarship would become endowed and “live on in perpetuity” at Regis. (To donate, go to the scholarship crowdfunding link.)
The announcement comes just a week after Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery’s high-profile and longtime brewmaster, said he is forming the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling (named for the beer writer, not the pop star) to "fund scholarship awards to predominantly people of color within the brewing and distilling industries."
“This is an affirmative action meant to take our allied industries in a more positive and equitable direction for the future. If this goal does not interest you, you are free to remain disinterested,” Oliver wrote on Twitter. “This work remains necessary.”
Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, the diversity ambassador for the Brewers Association and a diversity consultant, says scholarships like these are part of a growing trend.
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“I have been asked many times over the last month by breweries wondering where they can make donations for scholarships for underrepresented individuals in craft beer. In fact, a number of breweries have made donations to my nonprofit organization’s scholarship and grant fund, Craft x EDU, since late May,” the ambassador says. “I also personally know of a handful of breweries who have started in-house internship programs, and a couple more who intend to launch internship programs shortly.” Not all of them are publicized, she adds.
Station 26 marketing manager Hamlet Fort says the idea came about from company-wide discussions about "how we could make an impact. We asked ourselves what kind of concrete actions we could take, and we settled on the scholarship idea." One of the brewery's cellarmen, Chris Fangmeier, is an alumnus of the Regis program, "so we had the connection there," Fort adds.
Fort says initial indications are that each scholarship award will be about $2,500 to $5,000 annually.
The first award will go to a student one year after the endowment is fully funded. "So if the necessary funds are raised to meet the $50,000 threshold by April 30 of 2021, then the first scholarship award would be given out for the fall semester of the 2022-2023 academic school year," adds Matthew Peetz, the director the program.