In spite of a pandemic stricken 2021, a measured return of in-person events and other efforts to come together to foster diversity and inclusion in the craft brewing community has marked the start of 2022. The Brewers Association (BA) awarded more than $25,000 in grant funds to DEI Mini-Grants Program recipients in the first quarter of the year.
The BA began financially supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts through the DEI Mini-Grants Program (formerly known as the Diversity and Inclusion Event Grants Program) in 2019. In 2021, the newly formed Philanthropy and Outreach Subcommittee expanded the program to increase its impact. To date, grant funds have been used by recipients to acquire speakers, space, and catering for events; to purchase equipment and technical support for media production projects; and to develop curriculum and learning resources for educational initiatives. Since its inception in 2019, more than $100,000 in grant funding has been awarded to organizers, educators, creators, and advocates around the country.
Women Leading the Charge in Beer
The BA funded three events supporting and celebrating women in the professional and amateur brewing communities in early 2022. The Pink Boots Society National Conference was held February 17-19 in Charlotte, N.C. The sold out, two-day conference featured a number of prominent speakers who addressed a wide variety of topics in the fermented alcohol industry. In addition to seminars on production, leadership, and front-of-house management, the conference provided attendees the opportunity to delve into a number of DEI topics.
The Lifting Lucy Women of Brewsters Place Beer Brunch, held on February 20, provided a safe space for 43 attendees to discuss “strategies for consistently supporting women of color in fermentation–financially, socially, and mentally” according to the organization’s founders.
“One accomplishment was demystifying the process of applying for BA resources. Many women had not thought to apply for the BA’s DEI mini-grants or the mentorship program, because they ‘just did not think it would apply to them’.”
The Women’s International Beer Summit (WIBS), held on April 23-24, was an all-virtual experience focused on women and nonbinary beer lovers, brewers, industry professionals, and hobbyists. “WIBS was an online extravaganza for learning and fellowshipping with women in fermentation from around the globe. It renewed my energy being among so many talented humans. It was clear that everyone attending loved craft beer; not just for their palate, but because it is a powerful vessel steering social impact. It was also a prime example that there are millions of pathways and careers available in the brewing industry,” offered Tranice Watts, a member if the BA DEI Education Subcommittee, who spoke at the event.
Brewing Industry Training and Job Opportunities
Two projects funded in early 2022 are aimed at providing training and career opportunities. Black and Brew Chicago‘s craft beer education and training course for those interested in pursuing a career in the craft brewing industry became the first educational initiative funded under the expanded grant format. This charitable nonprofit organization provides virtual, hybrid, and onsite course curriculum covering the history of craft beer; why diversity, equity, and inclusion is important for the craft beer community; and educational and employment opportunities. The three-module learning experience includes presentations, interactive learning, and knowledge assessments.
The Hop Forward Career Fair took place in Boston, Massachusetts on April 25. The Harpoon Brewery and Mass Brewers Guild collaboration invited job seekers from underrepresented communities to connect with local breweries looking to hire. This is the second time this event has been awarded a DEI mini-grant. The event began in 2019 but was sidelined in 2020 due to COVID-19. During 2020, organizers launched the HopForwardEquality diversity and inclusion resource. It provides human resources (HR) resources, tool kits, term glossaries, training opportunities, and much more.
“What we hear most often from brewery owners and their recruitment teams is that they’d like to diversify their employee rosters, but they aren’t seeing the applicants come through to apply for their open positions,” said Katie Stinchon, executive director of the Mass Brewers Guild. “Through this career fair, we hope to bridge together key partners, diverse candidates, and breweries that are actively working to expand their workforce.”
Future Projects Engage BIPOC Communities
All The Way Up! A DEI Celebration took place on April 2. The Baltimore event hosted over 400 visitors who enjoyed vendors, artists, musicians, and networking with community leaders. A highlight of the event was Peabody Heights Brewery‘s release of Campy, a pilsner-style beer inspired by Roy “Campy” Campanella, an Afro-Italian baseball player who played for the Baltimore Elite Giants and later the Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella played at the old Oriole Park V, where the brewery now stands. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and joined Jackie Robinson as one of the first Black players signed to an integrated team. Campanella was a highly decorated player and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.
The Crafted For Action Craft Beer Con, was held during American Craft Beer Week (May 11-14), worked to build community through inclusive events and experiences. This is the second time the conference has received a DEI mini-grant. The annual conference seeks to foster diversity in the craft brewing community by assembling an inclusive list of panelists and speakers and offering educational experiences on non-traditional topics. “At a time when finding common ground is more important than ever, craft beer can represent community and support, while celebrating individuality,” said conference organizer, Jen Price.
Bronx Brewery will host Salsa Night in the Bronx, an event that will work to celebrate and bring visibility to Salsa culture and heritage. Salsa music became popular in the 1910s, but the dance didn’t come about until the 1920s. In the 1970s, salsa dancing became wildly popular due to Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians in New York. Salsa dancing is a mixture of several Latin dances—tango, mambo, and flamenco—and there are several styles of salsa, including Cuban, Miami style, Afro-Latino, and Colombian salsa.
“We look forward to using the mini-grant funds to amplify our work around Salsa culture and heritage, which has such a rich history in the Bronx and has been a staple for our brewery over the years,” Brandon Espinosa, founder of The Salsa Project, said. “Ultimately, it is about showing the depth and scope of what is possible in our industry.”
The Black is Beautiful documentary covers the social impact beer initiative created by Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing Co.*** The goal of the film is to encourage conversations about social injustice and will be available online and at local live events.
New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Formats
The DEI Mini-grants program continues to fund events that work to thoughtfully and intentionally increase the diversity of those who make and enjoy craft beer. Two new funding extend the impact of the program. The Philanthropy and Outreach Subcommittee invites proposals for media production projects and educational and training initiatives. Grant proposals are now accepted on a rolling basis.
When applying there are five funding priorities to consider:
- Increase access to and responsible appreciation of craft beer for underrepresented populations and those who have experienced barriers to accessing the broader craft brewing community.
- Promote employment and ownership opportunities in the craft brewing community for members of underrepresented populations and those in the craft brewing community who have experienced barriers to access and advancement.
- Celebrate the diversity of the craft brewing community and increase the visibility of underrepresented groups and experiences.
- Develop the cultural competence and increase the adoption of diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices among members of the broader craft brewing community.
- Leverage the strengths of the craft brewing community to fight injustice, eliminate disparities, and provide solutions to an array of challenges that impact those who produce and enjoy craft beer.
For a full list of past grant recipients and more information about the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Program, visit BrewersAssocation.org.
***Marcus Baskerville, creator of the Black is Beautiful initiative, is on the Brewers Association Philanthropy and Outreach Subcommittee and recused himself from reviewing this grant application.