On Friday, Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver unveiled the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling (MJF). The foundation, whose name honors legendary drinks writer Michael James Jackson, will provide scholarships to BIPOC brewers and distillers in the U.S.
“The program is open to candidates at the beginning of their careers, as well as those looking to continue their education,” Brooklyn Brewery said in a statement published on its website. “The MJF awards present an opportunity for members and patrons of the brewing and distilling industries to directly fund a more just, equitable, and dynamic future.”
Jackson, the namesake of the foundation, was an English journalist who is considered one of the foremost beer writers. His writing had great influence over the brewing and distilling trades. He passed away in 2007.
The foundation, which is financed by the Michael Jackson Fund and a 2014 fundraiser at Brooklyn Brewery that raised $30,000, will fund two scholarships. Both awards are named for people of color in the drinks business.
The Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing is named for the professor emeritus at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University who is a leading civil rights activist and brewing specialist. The Nathan Green Scholarship for Distilling honors the original Jack Daniel’s master distiller who was born into slavery and taught his whiskey-making technique to Jack Daniels in the 1800s.
With growing scrutiny over diversity in the drinks industry, Oliver hopes the foundation can fund the tuition of 20 students per year. The brewmaster set up a GoFundMe to raise an initial $200,000. More than $13,000 has so far been donated at the time of publishing.
Brooklyn Brewery announced its full support for Oliver and the Michael Jackson Foundation stating, “His efforts are crucial for the future of our industry, and we look forward to making our support part of Brooklyn Brewery’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion both within our company, and on behalf of the industry.”