Food & Drink

Partake Foods’ HBCU Fellows Program Is A Model For The Food Industry

Partake Foods sells more than gluten-free and allergen-friendly cookies and cake mixes. Founder and CEO Denise Woodard sees every box as a step towards broader inclusion and accessibility across the food industry. 

Woodard has built New York City based Partake with intentionality. Partake is majority backed by investors of color, and now the brand, which grew sales 10-fold in 2020, is opening up applications to join its second cohort of fellows from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The seven-week virtual program includes career prep but is really meant to be a primer on the wide variety of job opportunities in the food industry. It should be considered a model for other food companies to replicate. 

“All the students have an opportunity to work with someone who is paving the way,” says Woodard. “We’re at the forefront of championing inclusive diversity in the food space. Fellows have the opportunity to work with and learn from a company that is really walking the walk of what it means to be a diverse and welcoming and inclusive workplace.”

The first cohort had every full-time student land a job or an internship. This fall’s group is expected to be around 20 students.

By The Numbers: Partake Foods

  • Founded: 2016
  • Total Investment: $7.5 million, including a $5 million series A in December 2020
  • Notable Investors: Rihanna, Marcy Ventures (Jay Z), Circle Up Network, John Foraker
  • Distribution: 7,000 stores

This article was originally published in Chloe Sorvino’s newsletter, Forbes Fresh Take, which is all about big ideas changing the future of food. Subscribe here.

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Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture at Forbes. Her seven years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen,

Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture at Forbes. Her seven years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha, and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in Northern France. She manages a team of 50+ expert contributors, along with the 30 Under 30 Food and Drink list and the Forbes Ag Tech Summits. Her book on the fight for the future of meat is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books in 2022. 




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