Thanks to an initial gift of $100,000 from professionals in and around the North Coast wine business, Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute (sonoma.edu/winebiz)announced Feb. 15 the creation of a grant and advisory program to help employees in the industry and their families attend and succeed at the Rohnert Park-based institution.
The Wine Industry Scholars program, launched with the four-year gift, funds ten $10,000 grants for children and family members of vineyard and winery workers to offset tuition and other educational expenses associated with attending SSU. The program also includes a summer transition program, academic and career advising, cohort-based classes, co-curricular programming as part of the Rodney Strong Pathways Program, and student work experiences.
“For decades, we’ve recruited and supported first-generation college students, and learned that scholarships alone don’t always foster success toward a degree,” said Bill Silver, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Economics. “This new program provides students the resources and support system to forge a path to success. We’re grateful to our founding group of wine industry leaders for their vision and compassion in helping guide the next generation of leaders toward academic, career, and life success.”
Founding program contributors include George Hamel III of Hamel Family Wines, Gary Heck of Korbel, Walt and Sylvia Klenz of VinCraft, Mel and Craig Mannion, Carol O’Hara of Burr Pilger Mayer, Ron Rubin of The Rubin Family of Wines, Barbara Talbott and John Riley, winery architecture firm Gould Evans, Douglas Thornley and Susan Lundquist, and an anonymous member of the institute’s board of directors.
The Wine Industry Scholars program begins with a preparation period for students and parents before they arrive on campus. During that time they learn about the college experience and ensure that students have adequate academic training. Students will also participate in Summer Bridge Week, when they live on campus to learn about resources and services, and build supportive relationships with student counselors and faculty advisers.
During their first year, grant recipients will take prerequisite courses as part of a learning community and peer support group called the Wine Industry Scholars Academy. Students will be paired with mentors from the business community beginning in their second year, as part of the leadership development and career-path component of the program. In their third year, students will be placed in an internship where they can apply their classroom knowledge in a supportive work environment and consider opportunities upon graduation.