By Maggie White / NGA Foundation director
In many ways, the foundation of the NGA Foundation is our generous supporters, without which we would not be able to accomplish the important work we do each day for current and future independent grocers.
This work is represented by our five pillars – Scholarships, Industry Promotion, Leadership Development, Student Programs, and Diversity and Inclusion – all of which were highlighted during our first NGA Foundation Awareness Week, celebrated from June 21-25.
We focused on one of our programmatic pillars each day throughout the week, shining a light on the vital work the Foundation has done and stressing the need for continued support of these programs and initiatives.
With your support, you can help ensure the next generation of grocers has a chance to thrive and succeed in this dynamic industry. Here is a recap of what we highlighted during the week and why it’s essential for you to help us continue supporting each pillar of our mission.
Monday – Scholarships
The NGA Foundation has always sought to position the independent grocery industry as an employer of choice for college students by providing scholarships for those planning to pursue a career the industry.
That is why, on the first day of the awareness week, we highlighted our scholarship program, which has awarded well more than $1 million in scholarships since 1990. We take pride in easing the financial burden of education for grocery employees and students pursuing careers in the food retail industry. What better way to show the impact of scholarships than asking the students that have previously received them how it impacted their life and career? See below for some testimonials from previous recipients:
Tuesday – Industry Promotion
On day two, the spotlight turned to Industry Promotion which refers to communicating the importance of the independent grocery industry to support recruitment and retention efforts – that way we can ensure independents can continue strengthening their teams.
In this new video, UNFI Senior Sales Director Ria Gray shared her thoughts about the importance of independent grocers in the community. She said independent grocers are the heartbeat of communities across the country, playing a crucial role in addressing issues such as food insecurity and food deserts. This type of communication is important because it shows job seekers how essential the industry they are entering is – they not only need to know the importance of the job they are applying for, but also how rewarding a career in the independent supermarket industry is.
Wednesday – Leadership Development
Developing talented and thoughtful leaders and equipping them with the tools to succeed is important for independent grocers as our industry is dynamic and constantly changing. One way we are achieving this is through programs like the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP), hosted each year at Cornell University. The program is a high-impact learning opportunity with classes led by a mix of respected academics and industry leaders. One of the attendees this year was Charles Choi, the recipient of the first PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Scholarship, which supported his participation in the program. See below for his thoughts about the ELDP experience:
Thursday – Diversity and Inclusion
Elevating and developing women and diverse individuals aids in employee retention and is good for business. Companies are stronger when leadership and employees reflect the communities they serve – this is even more important for grocers because they are often interreacting with the public. With this in mind, the NGA Foundation is committed to ensuring diversity, and inclusion plays a prominent role in the independent grocers’ business strategy. An example of our efforts supporting this pillar is a training we hosted last year with Cassandra Pye, founder of 3.14 Communications. She holds seminars that make a science-based case on how biases develop naturally, how this impacts decisions and actions in the workplace and beyond. Our industry is only as good as the people in it – and we can acquire the best talent by focusing on hiring and retaining a diverse workforce through inclusion efforts.
Friday – Student Programs
The NGA Foundation’s student programs provide students with the chance to develop solutions for real-world problems and connect with industry leaders. This benefits not only the student but the whole industry, as current leaders can hear from future leaders about what is important to them.
The annual Student Case Study Competition, which we hold each year at The NGA Show, is a prime example of students developing solutions for real-world problems. Students from each school address a topic – such as hiring and retaining Millennials or inspiring healthy living among customers – and present a detailed solution. See below for a testimonial from Elizabeth Muzyka, a former participant in student programs at The NGA Show:
Each of these pillars demonstrates the impact of the NGA Foundation’s work and we need your help to ensure its continuation. Your support allows us to grow and expand the important work we do each day. Together, we can ensure the grocery industry continues meeting the needs of communities across the country.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the public was again reminded of how essential independent grocers are to the success of the community. Independents are truly at the heart of small towns and big cities across this nation. Please donate today so independent grocers will be there again – even stronger next time – when their communities need them the most.