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Ballast Point launches scholarship to increase diversity in craft brewing

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Posted at 1:00 PM, Feb 16, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Misha Collins was in the middle of her shift at Ballast Point's Miramar headquarters when she approached owner Brendan Watters.

"I was like, 'before you leave, do you mind if I just ask you something?'" Collins said Tuesday.

It was June 2020, the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were top-of-mind. Collins, one of the few African American workers in the craft brewing industry, wanted to speak to Watters about how to make a positive difference.

"I also was thinking, 'okay, how can we let the community know that we're here for every single person, every background, diverse cultures, we want you to come in and feel at home at Ballast Point,'" she said.

Watters, who had only recently bought the brewery, scheduled a meeting with Collins. He was aware of recent Brewers Association statistics that 76 percent of workers in production staff are white, as are 89 percent of brewery owners. It had to change.

"A diverse company is a stronger company, with more diverse thoughts and more diverse backgrounds and experiences. It's going to make you a better place. We're going to brew better beer and do things that are better by having a more diverse company, just like our country," Watters said.

Watters was so taken by Collins' initiative that he promoted her to a newly created position: community engagement manager. The two then put their heads together and came up with an initiative that could make a lasting impact on San Diegan's careers.

They launched the Brewing for Diversity Scholarship at UC San Diego Extension. Each year, they will select one person to receive full tuition to complete the university's Brewing Certificate program, which costs up to $5,785. The recipient also gets a paid internship at Ballast Point.

"This could be a platform. Wonderful if they come in, find a job within Ballast Point and find a career and grow. Awesome," Watters said. "If they come in, learn stuff, wander down the street, create a new brewery and come up with a new style, something else that will make San Diego strong and make our industry stronger by being more diverse, that, to me, is a really, really interesting element."

Applications are accepted through May 16. The scholarship is open to anyone who believes they can help make the industry more diverse. They must answer two personal essay prompts about their current impact on their community and on the impact they would hope to make in the industry.