One grant I greatly enjoyed working on this past spring was a CFA grant whose goal is to train local members of the refugee population that are under or unemployed to brew kombucha. I was especially excited to work on this grant for a few reasons; the first being that I am obsessed with tea and often drink between 30 and 60 oz of tea a day! Kombucha is a fermented tea. It taste slightly tart, is carbonated and comes in different flavors depending on what is added. I personally like Bootleg Bucha’s prickly pear, pomegranate and hibiscus lime flavors. However, my love of tea is not the main reason that I found working on this grant worthwhile.
Our contact at Jewish Family Services, who helped us to identify individuals for the grant, told us the story of one man who was the IT consultant for high ranking government officials in Iran. His degrees and certifications did not transfer to the U.S., so he has only been able to find minimum wage jobs since he immigrated. He has the education, skill background and general knowledge needed to obtain high level positions; but is unable to provide the documentation need to prove this to an HR department. While the brewing certification earned through this grant may not put him back into the IT field, I would hope that the classes and subsequent job would challenge his mind, and pay him better than minimum wage, thus making his work more interesting and life more fulfilling.
The proposed grant would send participants to Erie Community College’s Brewing Science and Service program. They would attend classes such as brewing practices, microbiology and chemistry. Trainees would learn to brew beer as well as apprentice with Bootleg Bucha, who would train them to brew kombucha. Bootleg Bucha would then hire several people as they expanded. Jewish Family Services would help the others to find employment at other area craft breweries. The goal of this grant is to educate members of the local refugee community in the science of brewing so they can be skilled workers at either Bootleg Bucha or another area brewery. I feel its goal is commendable because the earned brewing certificate would result in an engaging job that pays above minimum wage, putting someone in a better place to succeed than before.