It’s the back-to-school season, an exciting and challenging time for teachers. There is a lot of preparation that teachers put into getting ready for the new term. Between lesson plans and ever-changing protocols, it can be a stressful time – especially after the last couple of school years. That’s why Four Peaks Brewing Company created the “Four Peaks For Teachers” program. The Tempe, Arizona, brewery wanted to find a way to support their local educators, so they went out and created one.
Four Peaks Brewing Company was founded by Andy Ingram, Jim Scussel, and Randy Schultz in Tempe in 1996. The brewery grew in popularity, and in an effort to give back to the community, Four Peaks For Teachers was founded in the summer of 2011. This was inspired by a conversation overheard a decade earlier. Co-founder Jim Scussel remembered a group of teachers visiting the brewery that discussed how, thanks to ever-tightening education budgets, they were spending hundreds of dollars of their own money on supplies for their students and classrooms each year. Scussel never forgot the conversation.
In the first year of the program, family, friends, customers, and staff were encouraged to donate classroom supplies. All in all, 350 boxes of school supplies were collected! As the company continued to grow, so to has Four Peaks For Teachers. This past year, over 10,000 school supply kits were given out in Arizona, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Zach Fowle, the brewery communications manager, described how grateful teachers have been. “The gratitude shown by teachers every year as they pick up their [supply] kits is always both heartwarming and discouraging. You can tell they’re struggling and that they really appreciate any support they can get, no matter how small,” Fowle said.
This year was the 11th year of the program, and to celebrate, Four Peaks For Teachers gave out $1,000 grants for school supplies to 11 teachers. Over 1,500 teacher nominations were submitted from around the country.
The founders of Four Peaks are also passionate about sustainability. In August 2020, they installed 500 solar power panels on the roof of their production facility in Tempe, AZ. Fowle explained, “To date, we’ve generated more than 250,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, offsetting close to 40 tons of coal.” The solar panels even enable them to produce a new hard seltzer, Sun Day Solar Seltzer, using 100% clean, renewable energy. Four Peaks also participates in spent grain recycling, wilderness cleanups, and local charity donations.
When asked why Four Peaks has made its community and the environment big priorities, Fowle answered, “Craft breweries are intimately aligned with their community. The people who work here and the people who drink our beers live nearby, and the issues that affect us are shared. We give back to Tempe and Arizona because we want to see our community and the people who live in it succeed. I’m sure the same is true for most craft breweries.”
The past year and half has been hard on many Americans. So, it’s especially encouraging to see so much support for teachers as they begin a new, challenging school year. Cheers to Four Peaks For Teachers!