James Beard Launches Investment Fund For Black And Indigenous Americans

In acknowledgement of the immeasurable contributions the Black and Indigenous communities have made to the modern American foodscape, the James Beard Foundation announced the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans, a new grant initiative to provide financial resources for food or beverage businesses that are majority-owned by Black or Indigenous individuals. The initiative is a component of the organization’s Open For Good campaign launched in April to rebuild an independent restaurant industry that is stronger, more equitable, more sustainable, and more resilient post-pandemic. 

“The new Fund is part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to continually lift up the Black and Indigenous business owners in its industry, not just in light of the pandemic, but for good,” says James Beard Foundation vice president of community Colleen Vincent. “Financial resource is that much more impactful when coupled with support from organizations and experts who make themselves available to provide guidance on professional skills like marketing, structuring business plans, and negotiating contracts. The Foundation is creating new partnerships to deliver this value to its grant recipients in an effort to see these businesses thrive for the long term.” 

In order to properly appreciate the contributions of Black and Indigenous Americans to the nation’s food culture, the efforts of all types of food and beverage businesses, not just those that have been acknowledged at the James Beard Awards, must be recognized. Food trucks, pop-up supper clubs, fast-casual restaurants, and brewpubs are all a part of the unique culinary fabric of this country. With this new Fund, the Foundation aims to support and encourage businesses of all forms that help to make American food delicious and diverse.

The Fund aims to disburse grants equally across Black and Indigenous populations throughout the United States. Using the most recent census data, six regions of the country have been delineated, each containing 16-17% of the total Black and Indigenous population in the U.S.

To help guide the development of criteria, craft partnerships to deliver non-financial resources to grantees, and to support the promotion of application cycles, the Foundation created the JBF Fund Leadership Committee. Founding committee members include: 

  • Bleu Adams, IndigeHub, and JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Fellow
  • Cheryl Day, Baker and Author, Back in the Day Bakery, JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund Grantee
  • Carla Hall, Celebrity Chef and Cookbook Author
  • Raymond P. Lewis, President, RPL Consulting, LLC (Events Marketing, Public, Community Relations Firm)
  • Zella Palmer, Chair, Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture
  • Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO, First Nations Development Institute
  • Sean Sherman, Chef, Author, and Activist, The Sioux Chef, and JBF Leadership Award Honoree
  • Alexander Smalls, Chef, Restaurateur, and Author, Alexander Smalls & Company LLC
  • Dana Thompson, Co-Owner and Activist, The Sioux Chef, Executive Director, North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems
  • Heather Dawn Thompson, Principal, Native American Capital

A complete outline of criteria, regions, and categories is listed below. The Fund is launching with support from the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, who contributed $100,000 in proceeds from their annual Pinot Noir Auction which took place on August 13, 2020. The Fund will also be the beneficiary of proceeds from the “HEARD Initiative” bracelet created by chef Ming Tsai and chef George Mandakas of Chef Metal Jewelry (chefmetal.com). Donations to the Fund can be made at members.jamesbeard.org/jbf-investment-fund or by contacting grants@jamesbeard.org

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News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.