The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund announced its support of women in the food and wine industries as the prime focus of its Professional Development Fund in 2022. The SHE CAN Fund also reveals the results of its Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Initiative and Academic Scholarship Program in partnership with Southern University, which awarded $50,000 to Southern University's Agricultural Research and Extension Center and College of Agricultural Family and Consumer Sciences (SU Ag).
First activated in 2019, The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund has invested more than $3 million to date in the professional advancement and career growth of high-potential, professional women, with a particular focus on women of color. Through monetary grants, advertising credits, scholarship funding and mentorship programs, the SHE CAN Fund has received support from corporate partners such as Facebook (Meta), Silicon Valley Bank, Morgan Stanley and Brand Now, plus organizations including the Wine Institute, as well as the support of individual seed impact investors.
The decision to focus this year’s investment on professional women in the food and wine industry is based on category statistics, which shine a spotlight on the dearth of women in leadership positions within America’s hospitality industry. In a National Restaurant Association study, while women account for more than half of all restaurant workers and 71% of servers, only 19% of chef positions are held by women. African American women are paid the least amount of all subset of restaurant workers. With this year’s focus, the SHE CAN Fund will award WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) courses and certification or Sommelier certification courses and exam scholarships to high-potential women in the wine and spirits and culinary fields, to enhance their skill sets and to aid in the advancement of their professions.
Understanding that an essential driver of true change is determined by the success of the next generation of leaders, the SHE CAN Fund expanded its reach and impact by launching its first-ever HBCU Initiative and Academic Scholarship Program in partnership with SU Ag.
Launched to create a pipeline of HBCU students to lead the wine industry's future of diverse winemakers, grape growers, and industry professionals, the $50,000 awarded to the program in 2021 was dedicated specifically to the school’s top female undergraduate prospects’ career growth through professional development and research studies.
From the Fall 2021 semester to January 2022, SU Ag Center has grown its student population who enrolled in viticulture and oenology courses from eight to 133 students. This promotion of young talent is boosted by more than $100,000 in funds raised with the support of the Wine Institute, whose mission is to promote American winemaking in all its forms, as well as to advance diversity in the industry now and for generations to come.
These first actions by the SHE CAN Fund with SU Ag are but the first in what the McBride Sisters and their partners envision as a robust, multi-year investment in young Black talent at HBCUs.
“Wine culture and culinary culture are deeply entwined, not just because the final products enhance each other so magically, but also because of the people who pour their hearts into creating an experience,” said Robin McBride, co-founder and president of the McBride Sisters Wine Co. and Chair of the McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund, in a statement. “This year’s professional development focus is our Sisters in food and wine who chose to pursue their passion through a culinary career.”
This year’s focus is just one example of how the SHE CAN Fund is investing in the current and next generation of women leaders.
“What we’ve accomplished to date has changed the future of wine and we’re committed to another fund year of positive change and indelible advancement for women across the industry and beyond,” said Agnes Uboma, chief impact officer of the McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund. “It’s imperative to note that the McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund is not a charity but a call to action, and a direct reflection of women growing women. SHE CAN’s seed impact investors, program partners, and champions include ranking women representing impressive organizations.”
Professional development scholarships are open to all women currently employed or self-employed in food and wine. Recent graduates from an accredited culinary school are encouraged to apply.
Applications open May 1, at mcbridesistersfund.org.
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