Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling Announces Scholarship Winners for BIPOC

By John Hannafan
April 06, 2021

Two of the four brewers within this first slate of winners of the Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing - which celebrates and supports excellence in brewing by American people of color through ongoing technical brewing education - have chosen the Siebel Institute for their education. LaTroya Butts of Five Wits Brewing Company of Chattanooga, TN, has enrolled in the web-based  WBA Concise Course in Brewing Technology, and Alexandra Turner of Pikes Peak Brewing Company of Colorado Springs, CO, is enrolled in the campus WBA Advanced Theory program.

“Breweries and distilleries often say they would like to see diversity within their production staffs,” says Garrett Oliver, founder, and president of the MJF. “But unfortunately, the math rarely adds up. These are highly technical fields where advancement requires either a few years of experience or the completion of expensive technical courses. Given that people of color are less than 2% of brewery and distillery production staff, almost no one can actually get the experience required. And, for example, African Americans have only 10% of the family assets as European Americans, which means they can rarely afford the courses. The MJF’s scholarships help solve that Catch-22. An MJF awardee can look forward to a great career, not just a job.”

The MJF also provides mentorship to awardees and other BIPOC looking to advance in the brewing and distilling fields. In the future, the organization hopes to help people of color discover the brewing and distilling fields and then become working members of production staff. “When the brewing and distilling industries actually look like America, we will have not only greater inclusion but also far more dynamic, enjoyable and profitable businesses,” says Oliver. “Greater diversity helps create a happy and healthy industry”.

"We at the Siebel Institute take great pride in offering educational choices for the MJF, and see this as a long-term commitment towards supporting diversity in the industry."

John Hannafan, Vice President and Director of Education


The Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling was formed in July of 2020 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit grant-making organization. The MJF supports diversity and inclusion in the brewing and distilling industries through scholarships for technical education in the two beverage alcohol fields. More information can be found at TheMJF.org