DIAGEO is helping shape a more inclusive world by donating to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The alcoholic beverage company made a $10 million pledge to fund permanent endowments at more than two dozen HBCUs across the country, allowing them to provide financial assistance to thousands of students.

According to Dr. Danielle Robinson, Head of Community Engagement and Partnerships at DIAGEO, this is a part of their Society 2030 action plan, which seeks to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world. “In that vein, to make sure that we are changing the complexion of our industry, to reflect our consumer base, we wanted to support this constituency, most importantly black people and black communities, and closing the generational wealth gap,” Dr. Robinson said. “And so in doing that, we thought going back to higher ed, where many obtain loans and such and come out in debt into corporate America, we thought creating endowment funds would help remedy that.”

DIAGEO Presents Presidents from Grambling State University and Southern University Each with $250,000 to Create Permanent Endowment Funds During the 49th Annual Bayou Classic in New Orleans. (L-R: President of DIAGEO North America Supply, Perry Jones; President Rick Gallot of Grambling State University; President Dennis Shields from Southern University; Head of Community Engagement and Partnerships at DIAGEO, Dr. Danielle Robinson; Head of Diverse Investments DIAGEO – Pronghorn, Malcolm Ellis )
Photo Credit: Malcolm Johnson Jr.

During the Annual Bayou Classic game on Nov. 26, DIAGEO showed their support for HBCUs by presenting the president of Grambling State University, Rick Gallot, and the president of Southern University, Dennis Shields each with a $250,000 check to create permanent endowment funds.

Dr. Robinson said that they wanted to show their commitment and support not only for the schools but also for the local community.

In addition to advocating for HBCUs, DIAGEO is working to diversify the spirits industry as well.

Through their “Pronghorn” initiative, they have partnered with spirits industry innovators Dia Simms and Erin Harris to create a dedicated standalone business with a sole focus on expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion within the beverage alcohol industry.

“No time in history has a black own spirit been procured or acquired by a major producer or manufacturer. So we wanted to change that narrative. And so it’s a transformative initiative to support and grow and sustain black-owned businesses in the spirit industry”

Dr. Danielle Robinson, Head of Community Engagement and Partnerships at DIAGEO on the Pronghorn Initative

HBCU students are also a part of their diversity efforts within the spirits industry, as DIAGEO plans to include the creation of Innovation Hubs at select HBCUs and internship platforms to help drive diversity within the industry, according to their website. The company intends to provide HBCU students with opportunities to gain valuable work experience, as Dr. Robinson explained that one of the most important things for them was to “not just be a check writer.”

The endowment funds will be available for HBCU students across different disciplines and majors and distributed according to each institution’s financial aid process.

Dr. Robinson says all 25 of the endowment funds are about to mature and believes that as they distribute the funds there will be more announcements and initiatives in the next coming months. She also revealed that they will be announcing a second round of grants within the next 90 days for additional schools.

The current 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.