Diageo North America establishes innovative program with HBCUs to develop future leaders and help shape a more equitable society

3 Feb 2021 | Press release
  • The $10 million pledge will fund permanent endowments at more than two dozen HBCUs across the country, enabling these institutions to provide much needed financial assistance to thousands of students.
  • Initiative to include the creation of Innovation Hubs at select HBCUs and internship platform to help drive diversity within the industry.

New York, NY, February 3rd, 2021 - The North America business of Diageo, a global beverage leader, is committing $10 million to support 25 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and creating permanent endowed funds to provide financial aid grants anticipated to benefit thousands of talented students in need over the years. Funds will be available for HBCU students across different disciplines and majors, and distributed according to each institution’s financial aid process.

“We are proud to partner with these esteemed institutions and to do our part to help shape a more equitable society by providing opportunities for future leaders,” said Debra Crew, President, Diageo North America. “This initiative further deepens Diageo’s commitment to making a long term and sustainable impact on underrepresented communities.”

The program will provide funding to support students at the following institutions: Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Bowie State University, Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Dillard University, Fisk University, Fort Valley State University, Florida A&M University, Grambling State University, Hampton University, Harris-Stowe State University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Kentucky State University, Morehouse College,  Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Virgin Islands, Winston-Salem State University, and Xavier University.

Higher education leaders representing Winston-Salem State University, Morehouse College and the University of the Virgin Islands recognize the positive impact the endowments will have on the HBCU community and its students, across the country.

“Many of our students come from under-resourced communities and the pandemic aggravates the financial hardship to complete their education or could potentially accumulate a great deal of debt when they graduate,” said Elwood L. Robinson, Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. "This endowment will help us provide first class education and a life changing opportunity to our students.”

“Morehouse College develops men who are academically excellent and committed to leadership and service. This gift from Diageo will help more deserving students not only be able to graduate with a Morehouse degree, but also be equipped to lead and effect change in the national fight against systemic racism,” said David A. Thomas, President, Morehouse College. “We appreciate this generous donation from Diageo and the opportunities that it will create for our faculty and classes to collaborate with the beverage leader.”

“This partnership is a message that the private sector, as the public sector, must come together to ensure that HBCUs are supported at the appropriate level so we can fulfil our special and unique mission to society,” said David Hall, President, University of the Virgin Islands. “This endowment shows how Diageo is embracing a vision of student support and institutional transformation.”

With a goal of helping to change the complexion of the beverage alcohol industry, Diageo North America has also committed to taking a step to build a pipeline of talented leaders through an internship platform over the coming years. The company will provide opportunities for HBCU students to gain valuable work experience at a fast pace that could help them with their future career aspirations or jump-start their career in the consumer goods industry.

As part of this commitment, Diageo North America is also exploring the creation of Innovation Hubs at select institutions to provide students and faculty with an experiential approach and resources that complement traditional learning. The program will include Diageo providing mentorship, lecturers for faculty and students and curriculum development assistance.

This initiative was created by working closely with Diageo North America’s African Heritage Business Resource Group (A.H.E.A.D.) to focus on the priorities and actions, along with the right partnerships, to make the most meaningful impact in the Black community.

“I am proud to work for a company that shares my commitment to equity and inclusion. Diageo’s long history of supporting efforts to contribute to the greater good, are values that we consistently challenge ourselves to embrace,” said Malcolm Ellis, Co-Chair of the A.H.E.A.D. Business Resource Group at Diageo North America and Howard University Alum. “For over a century HBCUs have blazed trails in several disciplines for countless Black professionals and still remain a haven, and a refuge for many. This partnership supports pipelining of talent into business and industry.”

Diageo has long-standing partnerships with the National Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and 100 Black Men of America. In addition, Diageo and its brands, have a track record of supporting equal representation, social justice and economic advancement initiatives in the Black community.

Diageo North America looks forward to continuing to build its relationship with HBCUs and grow its programs with the institutions. In the coming months, more information will be shared on the Innovation Hubs and internship platforms that will be part of this program.