McBride Sisters Collection, one of the largest Black-owned wine companies in the United States, created the She Can Professional Development Fund in 2019 to promote the professional advancement of women in the wine industry. That year, sisters Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John awarded nearly $40,000 in scholarships to help close the gender and race gap in wine.
Since then, the fund has grown by more than 600 percent, and will distribute $300,000 in grants to the She Can Thrive class of 2020 (the fund shares its name with McBride Sisters’ She Can brand of canned wines and spritzers). The charitable fund’s growth has received a big boost from individual donors following along with the #SheCanThrive2020 social media campaign, as well as from major corporate donors including Morgan Stanley and Silicon Valley Bank. Facebook has also signed on as a programmatic partner, giving participants access to Facebook Elevate and Business Leaders Network, which offer resources and tools to help professional growth.
The recently announced recipients of the 2020 grants, which were expanded beyond the wine industry to include all Black women–owned businesses, include two wine events companies, Oakland, Calif.–based Black Vines and Chicago-based Shall We Wine. Among the more than a dozen businesses receiving grants are Detroit Dough, Supreme Burger, Freres Branchiaux Candle Co., Your Floral Matters, Femly and Pretty Please Teethers.
“I’m super thankful for the grant, and for what the McBride sisters are doing,” says Black Vines founder Fern Stroud, whose business hosts events that spotlight Black-made wines and celebrate Black history and arts, with proceeds going to local non-profits. “[The McBride sisters] are an example of how you can build a business, grow a business and sustain a business … and still give back to the community.”
“I’m beyond grateful to be chosen,” says Shall We Wine founder, author and wine educator Regine Rousseau, whose business hosting wine tastings, cocktail classes and in-store demos has had to pivot to virtual events and classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained that the financial gift came with the added emotional boost of hearing someone say, “We believe in your work, and what you’re contributing to the world.”
The McBride sisters received more than 1,500 grant applications for the 2020 campaign, and they plan to announce more winners later this month. Applications for the 2021 grants will be accepted beginning March 8.
And for businesses that are struggling, the sisters have words of encouragement. "Stay ready,” Andréa says. “Those that are resilient during this impossible time will have their opportunity and emerge stronger."
The sisters have described giving back to their community as part of their company’s DNA, and started looking at the racial wealth gap beyond the wine and spirits industry, especially in the time of COVID-19. "We knew that the pandemic was affecting Black individuals disproportionately,” says Robin, “so we started talking to female, Black business owners to understand the impacts."
“When we heard their stories, we knew we had to act,” says Andréa. “Later, we read the stats [from CitiGroup]: 41 percent of Black-owned businesses were indicating that they would have to close for good vs. 17 percent of white-owned businesses, and only 4 percent of Black-owned businesses received Paycheck Protection Program loans. That prompted us to expand our program.”
Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.