Home Industry News Releases Respected Wine Nonprofit The Roots Fund Expands Their Work into the Spirits...

Respected Wine Nonprofit The Roots Fund Expands Their Work into the Spirits Industry with a New Scholarship Program 


The Nonprofit Partners with WSET to Provide Scholarships and Training to Advance their Spirits Education. Scholar Program applications will launch online on May 22th

New York, NY (May 22, 2024) – The Roots Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to creating inclusive opportunities for communities of color throughout the wine industry, announced today that they will begin supporting education and careers in the spirits industry for BIPOC people. 

The four-year-old organization has partnered with WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) to create a new scholar program to provide certification for those who want to pursue careers in the spirits industry. WSET is the global leader in drinks education, and The Roots Fund is excited to have them as a partner as they build out their commitment to spirits. 

“The decision to expand The Roots Fund work into the spirits industry hones back into our overall mission to create economic opportunity for communities of color in beverages,” says The Roots Fund CEO Ikimi Dubose-Woodson. “Spirits brands have always heavily marketed and spoken to our communities, but industry representation reflects just as poorly as the wine world. The labor and executive leadership still make up less than 8% of the spirits industry. We plan to change this.”

The Roots Fund, which has raised almost $3 million toward their mission, has grown into one of the most impactful groups working to create a more inclusive wine and hospitality industry. Since its launch in 2020, the organization has helped over 200 people go through their respected scholar program and go on to careers at wineries, distributors, restaurants, and launching their own businesses and media platforms. The Roots Fund works with individuals to create a fully custom program for each scholar based on goals, providing everything from funding for education, unique internship opportunities, custom education programs, like the Rooted in France program with the Burgundy School of Business, mental health counseling, mentorship, enrichment trips around the world, and materials to learn more about the field. They have an impressive success rate of over 82% after 18 months of people staying in jobs and many advance in their careers. 

The organization looks to replicate much of this past success for people looking to enter or advance in the spirits industry. Scholarship applications will be available on May 22nd for the first cohort on therootsfund.org, and they will be ready to enroll in the WSET spirits qualifications classes immediately. 

Rob McCaughey, Head of Business Development – Spirits at WSET, added: “At WSET, we believe that we have a responsibility to create positive social impact through purposeful activity around the world. Through this partnership, we hope to empower people with inspiring learning experiences and we feel privileged to have this opportunity to support the BIPOC community.”

The Scholarship Program, which will include WSET Levels 1 and 2 Awards in Spirits, is valued at around $25,000, including certification, tutoring support, beverages, and entry into The Roots Fund. 

About The Roots Fund

The Roots Fund is a non-profit organization focused on securing the pathway for the BIPOC community in wine and spirits. Built to create financial support for education, mentorship, and job placement opportunities, The Roots Fund is out “doing the work,” to create inclusivity for communities of color in the wine and spirits industry. Since its foundation in 2020, they have provided over 200 scholarships that will bring years of change and equity into the wine industry. For more information and to learn how you can help, visit www.therootsfund.org.

About WSET 

WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) is the global leader in drinks education. Founded in 1969, and recognised by the awarding body Ofqual, we have awarded over 1.5 million people with a qualification since our inception. The courses are open to both industry professionals and interested enthusiasts who can take them across four levels, from one-day beginner to expert level diploma. Available in more than 15 languages and in over 70 countries, our qualifications have a strong reputation worldwide as the industry standard for knowledge. In the last academic year (2022/23) 143,000 candidates sat for a WSET qualification. Follow us on X @WSETglobal.