Sacred Heart opens craft-brewing doors to Black students

A Black student will receive full tuition to Sacred Heart’s brewing science certificate program each year

Black students at Sacred Heart University now have access to a scholarship in a unique career field in which they are underrepresented—craft brewing.

The Connecticut university has teamed up with New England Brewing Co. in the initiative to diversify the rapidly growing craft-brewing industry.

And to ensure the scholarship is supported in perpetuity, the Connecticut Brewers Guild has endowed the Connecticut Brewers Guild African American Brewing Scholarship at the university.

Right now, the brewing industry does not represent a cross-section of society, added Geff Stopper, associate professor of biology and director of Sacred Heart’s brewing science program.

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Starting in May 2021, a Black student will receive full tuition to Sacred Heart’s brewing science certificate program each year.

Students in the one-year program learn scientific brewing theory, ingredient and recipe design, sanitation and safety, brewing management, and brewing law.

Students participate in hands-on lessons in the university’s lab at Two Roads Brewery and intern at other breweries throughout Connecticut.

The scholarship is the brainchild of Jamal Robinson, director of sales at New England Brewing Co., who had the idea while staying home during the COVID pandemic and watching news reports about the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans.

“I had a lot of time at home to think,” Robinson said. “I was wrapped up in my emotions. I just felt this big call to action, knowing that we had come through so much progress as a country, but there is still a lot of progress to go.”

In 2016, there were more than 40 craft breweries in Connecticut; now there are 116. But only a small percentage of brewery owners and workers are Black in the nation’s multi-billion-dollar craft beer industry.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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