Mini-Grants Program Supports DEI-Focused Craft Beer Events

Since 2019, the Brewers Association’s DEI Mini-Grants program has provided funding to events that will help create a more diverse and inclusive craft beer industry. This year, the group widened the scope of the program to include education, training, and other projects.

Over the past few years, the Brewers Association (BA) has taken several steps to improve DEI within the craft beer space. One of the group’s more recent efforts is its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mini-Grants, which are used to fund local and regional events that “create a more inclusive and diverse craft brewing community.”

“As a national trade association, we recognize that local and regional advocates and innovators around the country are often better-positioned to affect change in their own communities,” said BA Equity and Inclusion Partner J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, Ph.D. “This program allows us to put resources in the hands of people who are doing the work across the country.”

The program had a good start with several projects funded in 2019, but the pandemic upended programming in 2020, resuming in 2021 with fewer events. Jackson-Beckham said the program has funded a wide range of events.

“Previously granted events have helped welcome new craft beer enthusiasts around the country, provided platforms for members of underrepresented groups to meet employers in the industry, educated owners about DEI best practices in the craft beer space, and promoted visibility for individuals from underrepresented groups who are currently making contributions in the industry,” Jackson-Beckham said.

One of the events that received funding in 2021 was Crafted for Action, a hybrid conference that took place during American Craft Beer Week in Atlanta. Jen Price, the event’s founder, said the craft beer scene lacks diversity and the event exposed diverse audiences to the product. One unique activity that took place at Crafted for Action was an “interactive pairing concept” where local female music producers were each given one of four craft beers in advance of the event and created a beat inspired by it. At the event, the producers played their beat, while the crowd drank the matching beer.

“This was my favorite event because it drew the most diverse crowd,” Price said. “About half of the attendees were not regular beer drinkers and those that were beer drinkers were not craft beer drinkers. One of the producers who I spoke with after the event [said] she had no idea that beer was so complex and nuanced, like her music. I think this says so much about how important it still is to cast a wider net to expose and welcome more people to craft beer.”

Because the pandemic halted events in 2020 and then reduced them in 2021, leaving the organization with fewer applicants, the Brewers Association widened the scope of the program.

“These changes inspired us to reconsider how we could best support the goals of the program and ultimately lead to our decision to expand beyond events and include educational/training programs and media-production projects as fundable initiatives,” Jackson-Beckham said. “In the long run, this new scope will expand our efficacy and allow us to make a greater impact.”

While Price had a great time at last year’s Crafted for Action event, she’s looking to improve this year’s hybrid event by including more action-oriented sessions.

“Since Crafted for Action is all about action, I’ve done a call for session proposals to collect input and insight from future attendees,” Price said. “I’m aiming for sessions that are more useful, with more takeaways, and that inspire people to ‘do.’”

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Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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