The Kids To Take A Chance On: Wine Philanthropy, Revised
The words ‘philanthropy’ and ‘wine’ are now frequently associated with education and mentorship programs for emerging talent, often from traditionally underrepresented populations, to increase their visibility and contributions to the world. wine industry.
The people behind the new Vida Valiente Foundation are taking this theme of wine philanthropy, particularly through education, another step forward: they are veterans of the wine industry who support first-generation students throughout their college careers and beyond, whether or not that career is in wine.
The mechanics of the Vida Valiente Foundation are simple, as I explain in detail below. But the context of their program and its execution is not. Credit for the successful execution of the program goes to the Foundation’s four founding directors, whose own life experiences reflect an appreciation of the challenges of balancing humble origins with the highest accolades and – most tellingly – the tumultuous journey between both. “How to navigate the tumult” between a humble beginning on the one hand and professional success on the other is, for me, the heart of the Foundation’s program and the main reason why it will succeed in moving forward.
Here are four points to note about the Foundation. The mechanics are stated simply but, when teased a little, a dynamic web of complex meaning emerges. Tracing this complex network describes one of the most interesting developments in wine philanthropy in recent years.
Students must already be admitted to Stanford.
Currently, Stanford’s acceptance rate for freshmen sits at just over five percent. The Vida Valiente Foundation aims to support 25 of these students with scholarships for each of their four years of college education.
“Five percent” is just one statistic among a staggering number of candidates. Foundation co-founder Susana Cueva Drumwright, whose education mirrors many of the students she hopes to reach, earned a 4.0 high school GPA with a 464-to-1 student-advisor ratio. They don’t stop once they’re admitted either: 90% of first-generation low-income students in the United States take more than six years to graduate, and 33% drop out after three years.
Students newly admitted to Stanford, who are first-generation in college and come from low-income households, are a winning population that has already beaten all odds. If there was a bet to be placed – in terms of investing in young people with resilience, bravery, courage and intelligence – the good money is on them. Co-founder Hayes Drumwright points out that the foundation’s name, Vida Valiente, translates to living a valiant or courageous life and continually doing things that might be difficult. Other people (including those in the Foundation) are betting on the students to lead a brave life, while the students are also betting on themselves at the same time.
Vida Valiente Scholars are first-generation students from low-income households.
Being a first-generation student means they are the first in their family line to attend college, which implicitly means that a college education has not been standardized for them. They figure out the process on their own, often without much guidance or the benefit of insider knowledge from their parents or older siblings: how to apply, for example, what scholarships are available, which schools are best for what. type of learner, how to choose a major, and how to build healthy relationships with faculty and staff.
The learning curve of normalizing a college education is steep and endless, and many students don’t have the luxury of focusing on “just” going to class and doing their homework. They often hold jobs to cover expenses and send money home, for example, which also distracts them from time spent on extracurricular or social situations with their peers.
The Vida Valiente Foundation awards Last Dollar Scholarships.
The need to keep a job while going to college is one of the reasons why “last dollar” scholarships are so important. Scholarships take away at least some of the anxiety and worry that there will be enough money to go through with it, while allowing students to devote time and attention to completing the course itself.
The Foundation offers an integrated leadership program.
The Integrated Leadership Program might be the biggest game changer offered by the Vida Valiente Foundation. Without a doubt, the Foundation’s financial support is essential to students’ peace of mind. But so is the cultural and social support for navigating between college and career, especially when neither path is familiar, standardized, or heavily populated with models of immediate access from their youth.
Vida Valiente’s program involves off-site training with fully present leaders/mentors whose expertise extends far beyond wine to also include areas such as technology, finance and construction. “Our request to leaders is to engage, not just talk to students,” said Susana Drumwright. “Sharing meals with them, engaging and interacting with them. We’ve had a lot of interest from executives wondering what the longer-term relationship looks like. »
The four founders of the Foundation cite the role of mentors and a kind of “informal leadership training” which has facilitated their careers. Winemaker Sam Kaplan’s resume, for example, includes 100-point wines and top deals at Premiere Napa Valley, partnering with the Drumwrights of Memento Mori Winery since 2010 before founding Vida Valiente in November 2021. That success follows to his childhood on the edge of a reservation in Oklahoma, mentorship by Gary Andrus of Pine Ridge, and training “in the vineyard” in Spain and the Willamette Valley before landing in Napa. One hundred dollars of the $250 bottle prize of The Movement de Vida Valiente will directly support the Foundation.
Kaplan’s ethos echoes the founders’ belief in Vida Valiente and their students. “We so often forget how it all happens, that it just doesn’t happen by magic,” Kaplan said. “For me, the wine industry has always been about working my ass off. I started at the bottom and worked as hard as I could to learn.