BTB Spotlight: Raymond Paul Lewis, RP Lewis & Associates


Raymond Paul Lewis

Pictured: Raymond Paul Lewis, RP Lewis & Associates

Raymond Lewis is a business mogul in the truest sense of the word. This Harlem native is charismatic, sharp, professional and a jazz lover who never forgets a name.

Lewis’ larger than life persona is what draws so many to his events. He says he was not always this way, sharing, “ I was shy.”  It’s hard to believe that this multi-hyphenate strategic relationship professional once identified as an introvert.

Lewis is from Brooklyn with roots from Eleuthera, Bahamas and South Carolina. His ability to bring people together is an invaluable skill he learned from his maternal grandmother. She was the “center of everything” in the Lewis family, a star at entertaining and hosting family, friends, and important members in the community as he was growing up in New York.

Lewis began his undergraduate studies at Binghamton University in New York and later attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He returned to New York and later launched a successful public relations career. He loves to entertain and enjoys food, like his maternal grandmother.

He has worked in the arts for many years and, in 2000 launched RP Lewis & Associates, where he spearheaded events for the Obama administration. Lewis also launched annual The Harlem Holiday Jazz Tree Lighting which takes place in December where attendees have “a shared experience of joy” and past guests have included actress Kim Fields and fashion icon Dapper Dan.

Continue reading

Posted in Behind the Business Spotlight, Entrepreneurship | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cooper’s Hawk Scholarship for Black American Wine Professionals

Deadline: November 15

This scholarship is to assist Black Americans who are passionate about pursuing a career in the wine industry. Scholarship amount is $1000. Whether you are pursuing an entry level or higher level program, this scholarship is open to all applicants. In addition to the scholarship, Cooper’s Hawk Master Sommelier, Emily Wines, will offer personal mentorship to each recipient. Scholarship recipients will be selected based on demonstration of need and merit.

One scholarship has been awarded. An additional nine scholarships will be awarded in December. If you have already applied for this scholarship, your application will automatically be entered for consideration for the December awards.


  • Must work and reside in the United States
  • Cooper’s Hawk team members are eligible to apply, but must disclose the relationship with Cooper’s Hawk in their application.

To apply, visit Cooper Hawk’s website.

Posted in Professional Opportunities | Leave a comment

Be the Change Hosts the Wine Industry’s First-Ever Virtual Job Fair to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

Joint initiative of Diversity in Wine & Spirits and Wonder Women of Wine provides a powerful platform to drive social change

Be the Change Job Fair, a joint initiative between Diversity in Wine & Spirits, Wonder Women of Wine and other industry leaders, announced today the wine industry’s first virtual job fair focused on diversity and inclusion. The virtual job fair will be held on December 2-3 and will bring together like-minded companies including job technology industry leaders Brazen and ForceBrands’ specialized beverage hiring division BevForce, to enhance and diversify the wine industry. According to a 2019 study, women earn an average of $12,000 less than men in the beverage alcohol industry. Starting with the virtual job fair, Be the Change seeks to address these inequities and provide tangible and real solutions for the need to create diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wine industry. The virtual job fair also seeks to help reduce high unemployment rates due to COVID-19. Ultimately, the initiative aims to submit legislation in 2021 to implement social change for the entire consumer packaged goods industry. Registration for equal opportunity employers and applicants is open as of November 2nd.

Founded by four of the wine industry’s leading women in wine, and driven by the many recent impactful cultural movements around the world, Be the Change will focus on leveling the playing field for all through tech innovation:

Continue reading

Posted in Professional Opportunities, Wine - Industry Trends and News | Leave a comment

McBride Sisters Collections, Inc. Launches #SheCanThrive2020 Grant Program

Supports Black-Women Owned Small Businesses During COVID-19

This year, the global impact of COVID-19 has hit all businesses but has been especially destructive to Black-owned small businesses. At the beginning of February 2020, there were more than 1 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S. but by mid-April, 440,000 or 41% of those businesses had shuttered. By comparison, 17% of white-owned businesses closed during the same period.

Black women are starting and maintaining businesses at a faster rate than any other group in America and McBride Sisters Collections, Inc. has pledged $100,000 to help entrepreneurs make the necessary business adjustments to sustain and propel growth during the age of COVID-19 through access to capital and business advice. McBride Sisters Collection is also seeking support from the corporate community in this urgent endeavor.

Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship | Leave a comment

Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, 4thMVMT and PepsiCo Collaborate to Increase Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership

The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), 4thMVMT, and PepsiCo announced a formal collaboration to provide leadership development and increase business ownership opportunities for Black people in the restaurant industry. Together, they are launching the Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership program, an innovative personal development training initiative that equips potential business owners to operate high-performing businesses.

Recent data shows that only eight percent of restaurants are owned by Black people. The program’s goal is to create 100 Black-owned franchise restaurants by the end of 2022 and to continue growing that number.

In alliance with the MFHA, the Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership program will be conducted with 4thMVMT, a social equity organization that vets, trains, facilitates funding, and partners with individuals from underserved communities to own and operate competitive businesses. As part of the company’s commitment to advance racial equality, PepsiCo is the founding sponsor committing $2.5 million over the next five years to build and sustain the program. The alliance aims to catalyze additional franchises and companies to join the effort.

Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, News and Other Happenings, Restaurants - Industry Trends and News | Leave a comment

BTB Spotlight: Benita Johnson, The Vine Wine Club

Benita Johnson, The Vine Wine Club

Pictured/Photo credit: Benita Johnson

Benita Johnson founded The Vine Wine Club in 2014. Johnson’s The Vine Wine Club is a subscription-based company that offers wine, education and lifestyle events to its members. In 2005, Johnson became the first Black woman-owned wine shop in Richmond, Virginia, when she opened Grapes and Barley that later closed in 2009.

An accountant by profession, Johnson pivoted smoothly into the wine world when opening her wine shop. She earned an MBA from the University of Virginia and a certificate from the  Master Court of Sommeliers. Johnson is also a member of the Guild of Sommeliers. In the past, she’s hosted “Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia” and has always been an advocate for wine appreciation and education. She plans to launch Wine Art and Soul in 2021 as her next venture in the wine world where she will merge her love for art and wine.

Johnson’s future includes hosting a virtual wine festival project that she is teaming up with a friend and six wineries, but in the meantime, we wanted to learn a little more about this 15-year wine veteran.

Continue reading

Posted in Behind the Business Spotlight, Entrepreneurship | Leave a comment

New Scholarship Initiative, Talent on Tap, Aims to Support The Growth and Development of Women of Color in the Beer Industry

City Brew Tours announces the establishment of the annual Talent on Tap Educational Scholarship program to support women of color from unique backgrounds who have a desire to make a lasting impact in the beer industry.

The scholarship will be open to all Women of Color 18 years or older who are interested in pursuing education related to the beer industry. The scholarship will provide financial support for a wide range of educational pursuits such as Beer Science programs, Cicerone® Certifications, and other hospitality certifications.

Applications are currently open and will be accepted until December 1, 2020. The first program award will be made in January 2021.

Source: City Brew Tours

Posted in Professional Opportunities | Leave a comment

The Wonderful Company Announces $500,000 Expansion Of Its COVID-19 Relief Fund To The California Wine Region

Company Extends Previously Announced $1 Million Relief Fund and Opens Submissions for the JUSTIN and Landmark Community Grants

— The Wonderful Company, which is dedicated to harvesting health around the world, announced today that it has extended its previously announced $1 million COVID-19 relief fund in California’s Central Valley to create a $500,000 additional fund specific to the San Luis Obispo and Sonoma Counties. The JUSTIN and Landmark COVID-19 relief funds will each receive $250,000 in additional funding for local organizations and schools affected by COVID-19 and the recent catastrophic California wildfires.

“Our state has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the recent wildfires, and we want to be there for the residents and our employees on the front lines,” said Andy Anzaldo, chief operating officer of Philanthropy at The Wonderful Company. “By establishing these JUSTIN and Landmark relief funds, we can support the organizations and schools that are having the greatest impact in California’s wine region.”

The $1 million COVID-19 relief fund was established by Stewart and Lynda Resnick in August 2020 to support local programs, services, and resources in California’s Central Valley that were affected by COVID-19 either by state and federal budget cuts or in response to new critical needs. Non-profit organizations and schools that demonstrate community impact were eligible to apply for funding. Recently, the Wonderful Company announced the first fifteen Central Valley grantees, including California Farmworker Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, and California State University, Bakersfield.

Continue reading

Posted in News and Other Happenings | Leave a comment