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Guinness Brewery donates $1 million to groups focused on bettering Baltimore’s Black communities

Guinness Brewery has donated $1 million to help address food insecurities in Black neighborhoods; train people of color in the tourism and travel industry; provide increased access to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and a number of other efforts to support the Black community in Baltimore.

Wednesday, the Halethorpe-based brewery announced the donations will support three key areas in the Baltimore region’s Black community including: community empowerment, economic justice and equal representation.

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In June, the brewery announced the $1 million commitment. This week, Jennifer Holiday Hudson, a director at Diageo Beer Company, which oversees Guinness, detailed how that money would be distributed.

Recipients were chosen after input from employees within their own company and the recommendations by diversity, equity and inclusion experts. There was no application process.

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“We were very intentional in finding a place to open up doors — making sure that we were in a rich, diverse environment,” she explained. “Coming to Baltimore was a big deal for us. It was intentional. When we came here it was all about making sure that we showed up as good neighbors,” she said. “Since the opening, the Baltimore region really welcomed our team. We were honored to make sure we were supporting worthy causes that would impact people in our backyard.”

The Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House sits on almost 62 acres in Baltimore County. The former Calvert distillery, the $90 million complex is the first Guinness brewery in the United States in 63 years.

The following organizations and businesses received money from Guinness Brewery.

Visit Baltimore’s Education and Training Foundation

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$30,000 each year for the next five years

The donation will revive Visit Baltimore’s Education and Training Foundation, an apprenticeship program for Baltimore-area minority residents at least 21 years old, according to Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. The program launched in 2017 and three apprentices completed the training. It paused earlier this year due to COVID-19-related budget cuts. The donation will fund at least 10 apprentice positions over the course of five years.

“We think this gesture is really a great opportunity to help support individuals from the Black, Indigenous and people of color community,” Hutchinson said.“Historically they have lacked representation in the travel and tourism industry — especially in the management and leadership roles. We think this is a great initiative to bring more people of color into the travel and tourism industry.”

Every apprentice who has completed the 600 hour training program has been hired, according to Hutchinson.

"Make Good Trouble: Marching for Change," an exhibition of paintings, protest signs, photographs and video exploring last summer's racial justice protests in Maryland, opened earlier this year at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.
"Make Good Trouble: Marching for Change," an exhibition of paintings, protest signs, photographs and video exploring last summer's racial justice protests in Maryland, opened earlier this year at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Reginald F. Lewis Museum

$200,000

The museum will use the donation to help with bus transportation and admission costs, which will allow 4,000 patrons, including students from schools that have large concentrations of low income students, visit the museum.

The donation will also help the museum digitize three of its current exhibits, including “Make Good Trouble,” which is dedicated to social justice. The digital process will create virtual exhibits allowing for greater access for the public.

“We were very excited to get support from Guinness. We were particularly excited that they recognized that social justice is an issue and worthy to support in Baltimore,” said Wanda Draper, interim Executive Director for the museum.

Job Opportunities Task Force

$200,000

The Baltimore non-profit, which was launched in 1996, will use the money to continue job training for low-wage workers to gain access to high-paying jobs. They will also continue advocacy work on racial equity in the workplace. Money will also go to the group’s community bonds fund, which helps offset the payment of cash bails, in addition to providing defendants with transportation and court preparation.

Ravens DT Brandon Williams does some food prep with FoodWorks Executive Chef Manny Robinson, left, as FoodWorks culinary students watch in 2016. The FoodWorks Program is a culinary training program that gives low income students basic cooking skills while encouraging them to work with fresh produce and other healthy foods.
Ravens DT Brandon Williams does some food prep with FoodWorks Executive Chef Manny Robinson, left, as FoodWorks culinary students watch in 2016. The FoodWorks Program is a culinary training program that gives low income students basic cooking skills while encouraging them to work with fresh produce and other healthy foods. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Maryland Food Bank

$250,000

The money will help the Maryland Food Bank contribute funding to areas experiencing food scarcity in majority Black neighborhoods in Baltimore such as Cherry Hill, Poppleton, and Sandtown-Winchester.

In addition to providing food to people in need in these neighborhoods, the money will also go to the FoodWorks Program, a 12-week culinary training program that gives low income students basic cooking skills while encouraging them to work with fresh produce and other healthy foods.

Baltimore Action Legal Team

$250,000

Baltimore Action Legal Team, will provide legal support to Baltimore residents who “exercise their civil libertieswhile protesting against injustice, according to Guinness. For example, the money will help offset bail bond costs for protesters or defray costs associated with home detention.

This isn’t the first instance Guinness has supported the Black community through donations.

In August — separate from the $1 million donation — they launched the Black is Beautiful beer, a dark stout inspired by the Weathered Souls Brewing collaboration project. Local brewers all developed their own beer and dedicated proceeds from that beer to programs that raise awareness for racial equality.

The beer generated $30,000 in sales for the Job Opportunities Task Force.

Since the brewery opened in 2018 Guinness has also worked with the Maryland Food Bank to target food insecurities in areas with majority Black populations, Holiday Hudson explained.

The donations will not end after this $1 million commitment, according to Holiday Hudson.

“It will continue,” she said without being able to say which partnerships would continue. “We’re open to being agile and to what the community needs. It’s a matter of what 2021 throws at us. And what makes the most sense.”

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