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Celebrating African American Male Achievement While Addressing Rising Unemployment


Seagram's Gin(R) Announces the 2010 Seagram's Pursuit of Excellence Institute(TM) Celebrating African American Male Achievement While Addressing Rising Unemployment


Landmark Program Returns To Atlanta, Chicago, Tampa And Columbia With An 80% Success Rate In Creating Job Opportunities Despite Record Unemployment Nationwide

NEW YORK,  -- As the nation reflects on the life and legacy of Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. and the contributions of African Americans during Black History Month, an economic crisis continues to impact communities across the country with unemployment continuing to escalate.  Despite gains in income among African Americans – a new report based on U.S. Census Bureau data shows that Black households making $75,000 annually has increased by 47 percent in the last five years – unemployment among African Americans continues to climb with African American men among the most adversely affected.  To address rising unemployment among African American men, which is at a record 34.5%, Seagram's has announced plans to continue its successful and unprecedented job training and mentoring program, thePursuit of Excellence Institute in four of the hardest hit cities in the nation: AtlantaChicagoTampa and Columbia, South Carolina.

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Recently featured in Jet magazine, the Seagram's Pursuit of Excellence Institute is a rigorous, four-week training session funded by Seagram's and administered by the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, Chicago Urban League, the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa and the Columbia Urban League. The 2010 program will provide grants totaling $100,000 to the participating organizations for the administration and oversight of the program.  The program will also pair participants with successful and inspiring individuals for one-on-mentoring and guidance. In addition to completing weekly take-home assignments, participants will attend multiple training sessions including computer training, interview skill workshops, self-esteem building exercises, technical training classes, and dress-for-success and financial empowerment strategies.  Each participant will receive a $500 stipend, briefcase with weekly lesson plans and supplies, as well as a suit of clothing.  One outstanding participant from each city will receive a $2,500fellowship and career-focused wardrobe.  

Originally introduced in 2008 by the Seagram's Gin family of brands in Atlanta and Chicago in conjunction with the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) and the Chicago Urban League (CUL), The Pursuit of Excellence Institute is designed to provide tangible opportunities to promising individuals.  The program also supports the efforts of social service organizations that work tirelessly to uplift and empower underserved communities.  In 2008, 20 men between the ages of 25 and 32 successfully completed the program.  In 2009, the program expanded into Tampa and Columbia, South Carolina bringing the total of successful candidates to 60 with more than 80 percent of them securing full time employment.  The program's impressive two-year track record has led to its return in 2010.

Adults across the country can access the curriculum and materials from the training sessions through exclusive partnerships with local radio stations who will offer the coursework from the program on their respective websites.  In addition leading radio personalities, including WGCI-FM Chicago's Leon Rogers, WVEE-FM Atlanta's Ryan Cameron and"Stu" Robinson of Tampa's WBTP-FM, will offer daily tips and insights for listeners in their respective cities.  More information on the Seagram's Pursuit of Excellence Institute can also be found at

Candidates for the program were selected on the basis of a rigorous application and pre-screening process, including a "boardroom-style" interview with noted figures from the worlds of finance, social service, media, sports, entertainment and design.  The program will culminate with special graduation receptions in each city in late February. Seagram's will also continue to galvanize the support of major distributors Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. and Georgia Crown Distributing Co., resulting in internships in sales or marketing that can lead to potential full-time employment for program participants in each city.

"The Seagram's Pursuit of Excellence program is designed to provide deserving individuals with the tools they need to get on their feet – and to prepare and succeed in an increasingly competitive job market," says Bill Cherrie, vice president, multicultural marketing for Pernod Ricard USA, parent company of Seagram's Gin.  "Seagram's is committed to giving back to the communities in which we do business and to reinforcing our leadership position by setting the stage for others in the corporate sector to follow as we continue to address the critical issue of unemployment through action and positive change, one individual at a time."

"Seagram's Gin is proud to sponsor the Pursuit of Excellence Institute for the third consecutive year," comments Abegail Domond, global marketing director for Seagram's Gin.  "It is important for us as the category leader to support innovative initiatives that celebrate the best of our society while leading the charge in making a positive difference in people's lives.  We are therefore very excited about this program and the success rate it has had in transforming the lives of nearly 100 men across the country and creating tangible opportunities for their professional and personal development."

The Pursuit of Excellence Institute is a signature program conceived and developed on behalf of Seagram's Gin and Pernod Ricard USA by Ruder Finn's Multicultural & Image Marketing Group.  

About Seagram's Gin

Since its launch in 1939, Seagram's Gin has acquired a loyal and enthusiastic following of gin connoisseurs nationwide.  Recognized as the leading gin in the United States, Seagram's Gin has preserved the finest qualities of the original product – both inside and outside the signature bumpy bottle.  Seagram's Gin has become the favorite of gin and vodka drinkers seeking to add a new and flavorful dimension to their cocktails.  Available in exciting and bold flavor sensations, products include the original Seagram's Extra Dry Gin®, the premium Seagram's Distiller's Reserve Gin, the award-winning Seagram's Orange Twisted GinSeagram's Lime Twisted GinSeagram's Apple Twisted Gin, as well as a full line of Seagram's Gin & Juice pre-mixed cocktail products, including the new Seagram's Gin & Juice Tropical Thunder.  For eight consecutive years, Seagram's Gin has presented the celebrated Seagram's Live concert tour, bringing the very best of contemporary urban music to adult audiences nationwide.  

About Pernod Ricard USA

Pernod Ricard USA is the premium spirits and wine company in the U.S., and the largest subsidiary of Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard SA. In July, 2008, Pernod Ricard completed the acquisition of the iconic ABSOLUT® Vodka brand from the V&S Group.

In addition to ABSOLUT®, Pernod Ricard USA's leading brands include such prestigious spirits as The Glenlivet® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Chivas Regal® Scotch Whisky, Jameson® Irish Whiskey, Seagram's Extra Dry Gin®, Beefeater® Gin, Plymouth™ Gin, Martell® Cognac, Malibu® flavored Rum, Kahlua® Liqueur, Hiram Walker® Liqueurs, Pernod® and Ricard®; such superior wines as Jacob's Creek® and Brancott Estate®; and such exquisite champagnes and sparkling wines as Perrier Jouet® Champagne, G.H. Mumm™ Champagne and Mumm Napa® sparkling wines.  The company is based in Purchase, New York, and has roughly 1,000 employees across the country. 

Pernod Ricard USA urges all adults to consume its products responsibly and has an active campaign to promote responsible drinking. For more information on this, please visit:

About The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency

The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) is a bureau of the City of Atlanta under the Executive Offices of the Mayor.  AWDA's primary purpose is to administer employment and training programs mandated under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 to the citizens of Atlanta to offer workforce solution services to the metro Atlanta businesses.  AWDA programs are

preparing Atlanta's current and future workforce for the ever-changing labor demands. In 2007, AWDA served over 60,000 customers. Hundreds of customers obtain employment through AWDA's weekly job fairs. Other programs include GED and SAT preparation courses, resume-writing assistance, job-readiness skill workshops and the Mayor's Youth Program.

About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League is a civil rights organization that empowers and inspires individuals to reach and exceed their economic potential. The League focuses on growing Chicago's African American workforce and business community.  To that end, the Chicago Urban League is pursuing three strategies that advance its mission:

  • ensuring that African American children are well-educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st century;
  • helping adults attain economic self-sufficiency through gainful employment, home ownership, entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation; and,
  • ensuring the civil rights of African Americans by eradicating barriers to equal participation in the economic and social mainstream of American life.

About the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa

The Corporation to Develop Communities (CDC) of Tampa, Inc. creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to job training and placement, affordable housing, and youth programs.  The CDC, incorporated in 1992, for the purpose of alleviating poverty and physical deterioration in Hillsborough County'sEast Tampa Community. CDC of Tampa is a member of the NeighborWorks® network, consisting of 240 private nonprofit affiliates that work in nearly 4,500 urban, rural and suburban communities nationwide.

About the Columbia Urban League

The Columbia Urban League is dedicated to youth education and empowerment.  Through college scholarships, the Urban League is doing its part to ensure that all children are well educated and prepared for the future. For more information about the Urban League scholarships, please visit

About Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the nation's leading wine and spirits distributor and control states broker, with a tradition of service excellence since 1968 and proud to be celebrating its 40th anniversary, operates in 29 states and recently has announced plans to form a strategic joint venture with The Glazer's Companies, headquartered in Addison, Texas, in all Glazer's markets excluding Arizona. In addition, Southern is a licensed permittee in the state of Nebraska. The Company also has a pending strategic partnership with The Odom Corporation of Bellevue, Washington, a joint venture that has wine and spirits brokerage operations across the Northwest control states of IdahoMontanaOregonUtah,Washington, and Wyoming, as well as a fully-operational sales and distribution business in Alaska. On a national basis, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. employs more than 10,000 team members. For more information

About Georgia Crown Distributing Company

Georgia Crown Distributing Co. is a full service beverage distributor, with wholesale operations doing business inAlabamaGeorgia and Tennessee, selling imported and domestic spirits, wines, beers and specialty products.



Helen Shelton


Ruder Finn, Inc.





SOURCE Pernod Ricard USA


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