There’s still a lot of work to be done on the front of equity and inclusion in the wine industry. Entrepreneurs from marginalized communities often do not have the connections or resources to get their foot in the door of an industry that often has a high barrier to entry.

A nonprofit aims to level that playing field with a newly-launched scholarship program.

The Lift Collective Entrepreneurship Program is a six-month initiative that aims to bring monetary resources, education, and professional networking to underrepresented individuals in the wine industry. The program is hosted by Lift Collective, a nonprofit organization based in Texas that focuses on creating better balance in the wine industry.

“There is an equity and inclusion problem within the wine industry. Lift Collective is taking action to change the trajectory of underrepresented wine entrepreneurs who report being overlooked for financial funding opportunities and regularly face bias and racism,” founder Rania Zayyat states in a press release.

The program’s six-month structure sits on four pillars: building a foundation in the wine industry, growing business, learning to market and, finally, implementing that education. Group sessions, one-on-one conversations and roundtable events help facilitate those goals.

Community-based support forms the heart of the initiative, which aims to especially serve BIPOC entrepreneurs, individuals with disabilities, and persons from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Participants can access program materials through the online platform The Us Space, which connects participants nationwide. A stipend of $5,000 will also assist participants in offsetting costs during the program’s tenure, according to the press release.

“The Lift Collective Entrepreneurship Program puts the power in the hands of the participants to steer their own business journeys with support and resources from industry professionals invested in the next generation of wine entrepreneurs,” Zayyat states.

Applications for the 2022 program are open online through this Sunday, July 31. Recipients will be notified by the end of August, while the inaugural program begins on September 19.

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