Like many other businesses across the country, A.C. Golden Brewing did some soul-searching over the summer and fall in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests.
So after discussions with other Tenth & Blake breweries, including Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia, and Hop Valley Brewing in Eugene, Oregon, A.C. Golden came to the realization that education is a key driver when it comes to making change.
“We have regular calls with [the other companies that are part of Tenth & Blake] where we talk about things like inclusivity,” says A.C. Golden general manager Jeff Cornell about the brewery’s parent company — a division of Molson Coors. “And we asked ourselves if we are really being as inclusive as we think we were. … The answer was no. Our intentions are good, but our results aren’t good enough.”
The result was that the company, in conjunction with Coors and Tenth & Blake, has donated $50,000 to Colorado State University to seed an endowment that will create a scholarship for people of color and LGBTQ+ students seeking degrees in brewing or fermentation sciences. (Terrapin did the same at Middle Tennessee State, while Hop Valley seeded a similar scholarship program at Oregon State University.)
The gift is one of three diversity-in-brewing scholarships that Colorado breweries have created over the past few months to promote more diverse hiring and training — something that is desperately needed in the industry, as brewery employees are disproportionately white, ranging from 72.6 percent for production staff and 89 percent for brewers, according to a 2018 survey by the Boulder-based Brewers Association.
Then last month, WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley announced that it would give $29,000 to the University of Northern Colorado to create an annual scholarship for current and prospective students of color, with an additional preference toward those who have an interest in Brewing Science. The scholarship could also turn into a permanent endowment.
The scholarship comes on top of a $10,000 donation that WeldWerks made over the summer to Black Lives Matter 5280 and Campaign Zero in an effort to “move the needle for a more diverse workforce." For guidance, the brewery consulted with the organizer for the Black Lives Matter march in Greeley and Dr. George Junne, associate professor of Africana Studies at UNC.
“It's easy to get behind the push for something when it's the main topic of the moment, but the harder part is sustaining that effort,” says WeldWerks spokesman Jake Goodman. “Our hope is that this endowment will be a small part of making...Weld County a more diverse place.”
A.C. Golden and WeldWerks aren't the only breweries funding education. Last July, Station 26 Brewing donated $10,000 in seed funding for a scholarship at Regis University’s Applied Craft Brewing certificate program. The scholarship will provide financial support to underrepresented students, including people of color, women, LGBTQ+ students and other marginalized groups. Brewery founder Justin Baccary is hoping that industry colleagues, partners, vendors, friends and customers can raise another $40,000, at which point the scholarship would become endowed, meaning it would continue indefinitely.
For A.C. Golden’s Cornell, education has made a huge impact in his career, and he says he's looking forward to working with the first scholarship recipients, since the Coors program also includes an internship in brewing, malting, packaging or supply-chain logistics.
“If we want people to bring in people who aren’t in this industry, we need to find a way to get them in here,” he adds. “Opportunities like that can make a huge difference.”
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