About the STEPUP Foundation

The alcohol beverage sector captures the best of what Americans offer within a manufacturing community: passion, innovation, creativity, collaboration, independence, a marriage of skills and disciplines, and outreach among multiple industries from agriculture, to hospitality and tourism, to marketing and sales to industrial processes.  

The pipeline to recruit qualified candidates is narrow. Underrepresented communities may lack knowledge or training to access this beverage sector.

The purpose of STEPUP is to increase talent through facilitation of workplace diversity. Specifically, STEPUP, working with distilleries and wholesalers throughout the United States, will provide a comprehensive, hands-on training program with a living stipend and provide job exposure for those of different races, color, national origins, genders, and sexual orientations.

Successful interns will bring passion, motivation, and an ability to immerse in a program for up to a year, which will expose candidates to all facets of owning and operating a distillery, including working with a distributor.

Mission, Values, and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

To provide underserved and underrepresented individuals with hands-on training and education, encouragement, and opportunities to enter the spirits community through a comprehensive internship program like no other in the alcohol beverage industry.

  • To support, train, develop, and economically empower underserved and underrepresented individuals to advance diversity within the spirits industry to better reflect our society.
  • To help the spirits industry prevent the harmful impacts of racism and cultural bias. 
  • To challenge and change structures that create inequality.
  • To celebrate our diverse cultures.
Vision Statement

To diversify the spirits & distilling industry – one face at a time – by providing a hands-on, comprehensive internship program for underrepresented professionals.

What is the STEPUP Internship Program?

A comprehensive education and training program to introduce candidates to the major segments of America’s small businesses whose focus is on the production of spirits. Applications ARE NOW OPEN June 1st, 2022 – October 1st for the 2023 year!*

*Application closing extended from September 1st to October 1st, 2022!

Eligibility for Interns
  • Member of an underrepresented or underserved demographic
  • U.S. Citizen or able to demonstrate proof of eligibility to work in the U.S. with a green card or work permit/visa
  • 21 years of age or older
  • Have earned at least a high school degree or its equivalent
  • Acceptance of a background check in states which allow
  • Willingness to commit to a full year of training
  • Commitment to following procedures, including health protocols, at each individual distillery/wholesaler in which the intern is placed
  • Agree to serve in a graduate alumni group
Eligibility for Mentors
  • Passion, willingness, guide, and coach the intern throughout the internship
  • Mentors must have experience in the hospitality industry
  • No prior mentorship experience is required
Eligibility for Distilled Spirits Producers & Wholesale Distributors
  • Member of ACSA (Not a Member? Join ACSA to host!)
  • Willingness to host an intern for a period of 8-12 weeks
  • Able to demonstrate a formal safety program
  • Proof of distillery insurance and safety plan
  • Demonstrated strong industry experience in one of four areas:
    • Operations
    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Finance
  • Commitment to assisting with lodging and transportation for the term of stay
  • Ability to designate a program instructor

Applications ARE NOW OPEN from June 1st – October 1st, 2022 for the 2023 year!*

*Application closing extended from September 1st to October 1st, 2022!

Click on the links below to apply:


Initially, two applicants will matriculate through the program in 2022, with the anticipation of six interns in 2023.

Growing the number of placements per year will be contingent on donor funding, with the expectation of supporting 10+ interns per year.


Applications will be reviewed and vetted by the Selection Committee with final selection and invitation from the STEPUP Board of Directors and Advisory Board during the month of November 2022. Internships will begin in January 2023.

UPDATED, 6/1/22:

  • June 1, 2022 – Applications Open for 2023: Interns, DSPs, and Mentors
  • *October 1st, 2022 – Applications Close for the 2023 year
  • October 2022 – Selection Committee provides recommendations for Top Candidates to the Board of Directors and Advisory Board
  • November 2022 – Final Selection of Interns, DSPs, and Mentors are chosen by the Board of Directors
  • December 2022 – Successful Interns, DSPs, and Mentors Are notified and logistics are confirmed
  • January 2023 – Internship Begins for Class of 2023

*Application closing extended from September 1st to October 1st, 2022!

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