This feature is part of our 2023 Next Wave Awards.
When Amanda Gunderson and Travis Nass started working in the hospitality industry in the late ‘90s, it didn’t take them long to notice the staggering lack of quality employment opportunities. Accessible education necessary to further your career was virtually nonexistent, wages were low, and there was no health coverage.
“I started seeing my friends getting in these accidents,” Gunderson explains. “You know, someone would go skiing, break an arm, and then be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m $30,000 in medical debt.’”
Over the course of the following three decades, Gunderson and Nass — who met in 2012 while Gunderson represented a small-batch spirits distributor in Southern California and Nass managed the beverage program at LON’s at The Hermosa Inn in Arizona — continued to observe a constant need for emergency funding across the industry, with absolutely no backup for people who needed it. Beyond events like Tales of the Cocktail and Portland Cocktail Week, which aren’t available to everyone, there were no widespread opportunities for education and networking within the bartending community. Overall, the support for the industry and its workforce just wasn’t there.
“We just didn’t see a lot of people of color, or LGBTQ folks, or women who were in these higher- level management positions with the best paying jobs, the places where you can have a long career,” Gunderson says. “So that’s when we started kicking around this idea in 2018.”
The idea was Another Round Another Rally, a nonprofit organization providing financial relief and educational resources to those in the hospitality industry who have historically been underserved or overlooked. Gunderson and Nass were just getting their feet underneath them when the pandemic struck, canceling a competition event they had planned to throw as a large-scale introduction to their nonprofit. With little else to do and feeling helpless, the two co-founders donated the $35,000 they had set aside for the winners to those in the hospitality industry already reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, and started immediately asking everyone they knew for donations to their organization so they could help more.
Despite the fact that the Another Round Another Rally had been founded less than two years before the start of the pandemic, it served as a backbone for the hospitality industry during the tenuous time. In the first year of the pandemic alone, the nonprofit provided over $3 million in emergency relief, uplifting thousands of bars and restaurants — and their employees — nationwide.
“We couldn’t give everyone heaping amounts of money, but we could give a lot of people $500,” Gunderson explains of their strategy in distributing funds. “We thought, maybe it won’t pay your rent, but it will keep your lights on. It will keep food in your belly, keep you connected to the internet, keep your phone working.”
In order to fund these $500 grants, Another Round Another Rally received generous donations from a number of spirits brands, including a $1 million donation from the Campari Group. In addition to the monetary relief, Campari also partnered with the nonprofit for the #AnotherRoundChallenge in the early days of the pandemic. It called on bar-goers from around the country to support their local bartenders by adding to a virtual tip jar on Another Round Another Rally’s website. Most recently, Another Round has partnered with Teremana Tequila to help kickstart Mana for a Cause, Teremana’s charitable program seeking to uplift those in the hospitality industry. This holiday season, the tequila brand plans to donate $250,000 to the nonprofit to help support their joint mission.
While the days of the pandemic are not behind us, and Another Round Another Rally continues to provide emergency relief, as the industry continues to regain its footing, much of the nonprofit’s attention has turned toward bolstering educational and mentorship programs. It has taken a number of nonprofits under its umbrella, all of which are able to benefit not just from the larger organization’s funding, but also from a program that allows them to connect further with the team at Another Round and learn how to better improve their own operations.
Gunderson, Nass, and the team have also launched a bartender mentoring program called Skylight, which is currently in its third year of operations and spans six weeks. Within the program, which focuses on women and nonbinary folks, 10 mentees are paired with mentors and attend a series of seminars focused on leadership, psychological safety at work, how to build a bar, and more.
With a 100 percent graduation rate in Phoenix’s pilot program, Gunderson hopes to bring Skylight to a national scale in the coming years.
When Gunderson looks at the next five years for Another Round, she hopes that the organization will be able to launch its own form of health care coverage to those in the hospitality industry. Ten years from now, she hopes that Another Round Another Rally will have launched a pension plan.
“I think the pandemic broke us down to our bones, and made it very clear what the problems are,” she explains. “But then it brought up a whole new generation of people who are going to try their hardest to not muck it up.”