Amid Turmoil, Brewers Association 2021 Mini-Grants Help Fund and Support DEI Initiatives Across the U.S.

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Crafted For Action conference organizer Jen Price (second from left) with conference Attendees. Photo credit: Crafted For Action.

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Since 2019, the Brewer Association has financially supported diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts through the DEI Mini-Grants Program (formerly known as the Diversity & Inclusion Event Grants Program). Grant recipients have used funds for marketing, to secure panelists, to rent event space and equipment, and to defray a range of other costs that allowed them realize the goals for their events.

Though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected organizers’ ability to safely hold face-to-face events in 2021 and limited the grant program timeline, the Brewers Association was able to financially support several events that worked to foster greater diversity and inclusion in the craft beer community, including events that were awarded funding in 2020 but canceled due to COVID-19.

Celebrating and Supporting Women in Craft Beer

The FemAle Brew Fest, a craft beer festival dedicated to highlighting, supporting, and inspiring women in the craft beer industry, was a 2021 grant recipient. The grant helped support enrichment programming for festival attendees.

Attendees at the 2021 FemAle Brew Fest. Photo credit: UniteUs Group.

“The Brewers Association Diversity & Inclusion Event Grant greatly impacted the event by helping offset some of the costs associated with the production of the event, including the funding of hotel stays for the speakers, brewers, and representatives that were being featured in the festival,” said Frances Antonio-Martineau, FemAle Brew Fest founder.

The 2021 installment of this annual event was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in September. It was the fourth since 2017 (a 2020 festival was canceled due to COVID-19). FemAle attracted approximately 500 attendees and drew more than 30 participating breweries.

Antonio-Martineau, who is a member of the Pink Boots Society board of directors and founder of Greater Fort Lauderdale Beer Week, said it is important to ensure these types of events happen.

“FemAle Brew Fest is proud to be able to help create a platform for women in brewing to be highlighted and celebrated along with their peers in the craft brewing industry,” Antonio-Martineau said. “We have seen the festival open new doors, generate dialog, create new collaborations, camaraderie, opportunities for leadership, and overall empowerment of women in the industry.”

Atlanta’s Organizers Make Strides to Build Diversity and Community

Crafted For Action, a hybrid conference that offered educational experiences for the full spectrum of craft beer lovers, provided a mix of face-to-face engagements for attendees in Atlanta, Georgia, and free online sessions for virtual attendees across the country. Grant funds helped offset marketing and promotional costs for the conference.

Though 2021 was the inaugural year for the Crafted For Action conference, it hosted 470 in-person and virtual attendees over four days during American Craft Beer Week. Founder Jen Price said it was an important first step in establishing something long-lasting for the industry.

“The American craft beer scene lacks diversity. At a time when finding common ground is more important than ever, craft beer can represent community and support for small businesses, while celebrating individuality,” Price said. “Crafted for Action Craft Beer Con was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

A mostly in-person conference will follow in May 2022 in Atlanta, “where the craft community is uniquely poised to help move the needle forward from ideas into action.”

December 2021 brought the third annual installment of the Dames and Dregs Beer Fest, an Atlanta-based event that seeks to empower and educate by celebrating women’s contributions to brewing. The festival organizers work to create an experience for attendees that spotlights the hard work of women-led breweries, brewers and brewery employees who are women, as well as women-led businesses and non-profit organizations in the region.

Rebecca Royster, a co-founder of Dames and Dregs, said that the event simply would not be possible without outside support from sponsors and community partners. “The Brewers Association grant made it possible for us to welcome 38 craft brewery, cidery, meadery, and kombucha partners,” Royster said.

“We are filled with hope and courage about the future of the beer industry. Beer brings people together. We brew it to share with friends and strangers alike. In doing so, we create opportunities to share our stories and to exchange ideas. We have met so many awesome women and allies through Dames and Dregs who are deeply committed to creating a more inclusive community. We are excited to continue these conversations in 2022.”

State Brewers Guilds Offer DEI Education

It Starts At The Top was organized by the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and featured diversity and inclusion expert John Basile for a two-hour training workshop. The workshop was tailored for brewery owners and founders, and focused on understanding the meaning of DEI and the various dimensions of diversity, understanding the business and moral case for DEI, and understanding unconscious bias and its impact on the workplace, along with strategies to mitigate bias.

Massachusetts Brewery Owners attend It Starts At The Top, a DEI training workshop. Photo Credit: Massachusetts Brewers Guild

Katie Stinchon, executive director of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild said, “feedback from the afternoon was great with many owners asking us to repeat the content so that they could send their other partners and owners for a day of learning to hear the same messages. We now have a framework that we can repeat and build on.”

About the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Program

For a full list of past grant recipients and more information about the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Program, visit BrewersAssocation.org.

Since its inception in 2019, more than $80,000 in grant funding has been awarded to event organizers around the country through the program.

The 2022 grant cycle brings a name change for the program and an expansion aimed at generating greater impact. The DEI Mini-Grants Program will continue to support events aimed at increasing the diversity of those who make and enjoy craft beer. However, it will also accept funding proposals for media production projects and educational and training initiatives.

“Though funding events has been a successful approach, we recognize that there are more ways that we can support the work of those around the country who are fostering greater diversity in the craft brewing community,” said Alana Koenig-Busey, who serves as the DEI Mini-Grants program director. “COVID-19 has shifted how we approach face-to-face events forever. People have had to get creative about how to engage others and deliver meaningful experiences. These changes to our grant program will help us evolve with the changing times.”