Excellence on Tap

Schools Partner with Tucker Brewing Company for Student Achievement


It’s Valentine’s Day at Tucker Brewing Company and several well-dressed men have come out in search of love. But despite their best efforts, these guys won’t have a say in which lady becomes their date for the night. That’s because they’ve signed up to participate in the first-ever Tucker Brewing Bachelor Auction.

While bachelor auctions and similar events are common ways to fundraise, the benefactor of tonight’s event is uncommon: it’s an elementary school.

“Our mom was an educator for over 30 years,” recalls Gabriel Chapman, one of the co-owners of Tucker Brewing. “It’s cliché, but education is the way to bring communities together.”

Chapman opened Tucker Brewing with his siblings last year and says that, as a new business, they were simply looking for a way to get involved in the community. Education provided that avenue.

“Our mother, we saw her struggles in public education,” says Chapman’s sister and business partner, Ashley Hubbard. “Our end goal is to make a financial impact and to support those who need awareness.”

The school they’ve chosen to partner with is Idlewood Elementary. Idlewood is unique among Tucker schools: it has the most ethnically diverse student population, drawing some of its student body from the City of Clarkston. It also has, by far, the biggest elementary student population at over 1,100 children.

“I see Idlewood Elementary as the international school of Tucker,” explains Idlewood’s Principal Advisory Council Chair Roger Carter. “My company (WellMed) has gotten involved. I hope this is going to become a new model of local corporate sponsorship at Idlewood.”

For Tucker Brewing, the approach is multi-faceted. They’re currently working with most of the Tucker cluster schools to host spirit nights, where the school receives a portion of that night’s proceeds. They also are discussing ways to start an after-school tutoring program at Idlewood, where Tucker Brewing employees would go to the school and spend an hour mentoring students. That’s one of the areas where parents like Carter say the children benefit most.

“It doesn’t have to be monetary. We need more mentors in our school system,” he says. “What would you pay [a private company] for this one-on-one time? Forty dollars an hour? Think of the knowledge transfer that child is getting just working with an adult. Imagine where our kids would be. At the end of the day, you have a student who can compete in the global marketplace.”

The goal is certainly good, but many still will ask: a brewery raising money for a school?

Since it opened, Tucker Brewing has promoted itself as a kid-friendly place for families to come and spend some quality leisure time. When they designed their 8,500-square-foot beer garden, Hubbard, a mother of two, made sure there was a space for kids to play. Now they routinely see young children digging through the sandbox or playing games with friends on the weekends while their moms and dads kick back and relax. Still, she understands how that’s a foreign concept to many.

“I have friends in this business who won’t donate to children,” she explains. “We’re not in your face, ‘have a beer.’ It’s more that we want to be supportive in the community. We just want to help in any way we can.”

Erin Kirn has a child at Tucker Middle School and serves as co-Chair of the Tucker Cluster Council. She says Tucker is unique in how its businesses step up to support student achievement.

“The way Tucker businesses partner with our schools to create this connectivity with our community has such an impact, not only on student achievement, but really every stakeholder in this city,” Kirn says.

As for the team at Tucker Brewing, they’re not just hosting events and writing a check. They hope to see their philanthropy pay dividends for the students.

“Success is seeing test scores, the results and outcomes. That’s how we measure what the impact is,” Chapman says.

While that impact will be seen in the long-term, in the short-term Tucker Brewing is setting an example for students and other businesses; giving of their time and their resources to try and make Tucker a better place.

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