Leadership equity and diversity (LEAD) scholarship program

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*Update on May 22: Point 2 in the participation criteria has been simplified to 3 years of experience in the coffee industry, removing the mid- to senior-level management experience previously required. LEAD is designed to open doors to underrepresented people in our community and we believe this change in the requirements is the right step towards greater inclusivity. 


The SCA is excited to announce the new Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship Program. LEAD is aimed at increasing diversity of leadership within the global coffee community by enabling access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of S&D Coffee & Tea.

As a global nonprofit organization, the SCA recognizes that access to benefits of membership and participation in coffee events and education differ for people depending on identity, background, and access to financial resources. The coffee industry has a lot of work to do to diversify its leadership at every point in the value chain and overcoming these obstacles will require proactive efforts and dedicated resources. LEAD is designed to be a small but important step towards progress in this field.

We are now accepting applications to the inaugural LEAD Scholarship Program! Applications are due by June 30, 2018. Five scholarships will be awarded in the first year of the program.

Program Benefits

  • Participation in events and educational activities
    • 2-year complimentary individual SCA membership
    • Year 1: Registration, travel, and lodging to annual SCA meetings during the scholarship term
    • Year 1: Travel and lodging to cohort meeting with program sponsor
    • Year 2: Registration, travel, and lodging to one global SCA conference as selected by the scholar (i.e. Re:co Symposium, Specialty Coffee Expo, World of Coffee)
    • Year 2: Registration, travel, and lodging to selected SCA education program as selected by the scholar (AST Live, Roaster Retreat/Camp, Sensory Summit, CTG Summit, or Barista Camp)
    • Inclusion of AST examination fee (provided the exam is taken within 3 years of scholar participation) and study guide materials
  • Career development and expansion of professional networks
    • Connection to an industry leader to serve as a mentor
    • Group coaching to enhance the connection of the scholar cohort
    • Service experience opportunity
    • Support from SCA senior staff and volunteer leadership

Participation Criteria

Applicants to the LEAD Scholarship Program must:

  • Be anyone who self-identifies as member of an underrepresented or marginalized community (racial/ethnic minority group, sexual orientation, gender, disability, etc.)
  • *Updated, May 22nd: Have a minimum of 3 years of experience in the coffee industry
  • Demonstrate professional, volunteer, or civic/community leadership experience
  • Be committed to fully engage in all SCA scholarship benefits
  • Demonstrate commitment to the future of the specialty coffee industry

Application Process and Requirements

Applications and supporting documents, as outlined in the application form, must be received no later than June 30, 2018. The following supporting documents must be included in your application:

  • Current leadership résumé/CV: Submit a leadership résumé that includes extracurricular activities and highlights your leadership experiences.
  • Three essays (see the application to find the prompts)
  • Two letters of recommendation

Get in Touch

Questions about the LEAD Scholarship Program? Email Ellie Hudson at ellieh@sca.coffee or Mansi Chokshi at mansic@sca.coffee.