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News: 03/15/2017

New scholarship program for wine industry workers and families



Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute (WBI) has launched a program to help children and families of vineyard and winery workers attend and succeed in college.

The Wine Industry Scholars Program is a pioneering initiative with a starting gift of $100,000 over four years, including ten $10,000 individual grants to offset tuition and other educational expenses associated with attending Sonoma State. In addition to financial support, the new program 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.

School of Business and Economics Dean Bill Silver says it was important to consider more than just financial assistance to help students in this program succeed. “For decades, we’ve recruited and supported first generation college students, and learned that scholarships alone don’t always foster success toward a degree,” he says. “This new program provides students the resources and support system to forge a path to success.”

The Wine Industry Scholars Program begins with a preparation period for students and parents before they arrive on campus, to speak with them about the college experience and ensure that students have adequate academic training. Students will also participate in Summer Bridge Week, an on-campus residential experience designed to introduce students to resources and services available to them while building supportive relationships with student counselors and faculty advisors.

During their first year, students 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 pathway 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.

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; Gould Evans; Douglas Thornley and Susan Lundquist; and an anonymous member of the WBI Board of Directors.



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