OAKLAND, CALIF. – Kingsford’s inaugural Preserve the Pit last year received over 1,500 applications and awarded three barbecue entrepreneurs with an immersive industry fellowship, and because of the overwhelming interest and inspirational stories from Black barbecue entrepreneurs 10 small business grants were added to the program. The Fellows received immersive training and one-on-one mentorship from industry leaders who share Kingsford’s commitment to honoring the history and culture of Black barbecue. This year Kingsford and Preserve the Pit are doubling the commitment to investing in aspiring barbecue professionals.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to Preserve the Pit last year and the incredible work done by our Mentor Network and Fellows,” said Ram Gopalakrishnan, marketing director at Kingsford. “While the first year of the fellowship was a success, we know that many of the same systemic issues in the barbecue industry exist today which is why we’re doubling our investment in the Black barbecue community.”

Kingsford has set the goal to name six aspiring barbecue professionals as Preserve the Pit Fellows and award 10 applicants with grants to kick start their small businesses in the program’s second year. Additionally, Pat Neely will be joining the effort as a new mentor alongside Dr. Howard Conyers, pitmaster and educator on the history of Southern barbecue, and the returning Mentor Network including Kevin Bludso, Devita Davison, Bryan Furman, Rashad Jones and Amy Mills.

“Working with the first class of Fellows and mentors last year was incredibly inspiring and rewarding,” said Howard Conyers, PhD. “I remain confident that through our shared passion, Kingsford, the Mentor Network and I can continue to provide resources and business opportunities to help future generations thrive in the barbecue industry and keep them connected to the culture and history of the craft.”

This year, Kingsford and artist-activist Brandan "BMike" Odums partnered to create a special edition Preserve the Pit bag to further honor the Black community’s contributions to American barbecue. The bag, titled “Pass it On,” is inspired by the Black barbecue traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation and will be available in Walmart stores nationwide. The art has also been memorialized as a mural at the historic Black-owned Payne's BBQ in Memphis, Tenn. A portion of the sales* from the “Pass it On” bag will be reinvested into Preserve the Pit to continue to pave the way for future generations of Black barbecue enthusiasts. 

Applications for those interested will be accepted through March 1, 2022, and the second class of fellows will be announced in April of 2022. No purchase is necessary to apply or participate. Kingsford and the Mentor Network will make selections based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, their connection to barbecue, contributions to the legacy of the Black barbecue community and commitments to fueling its future. Through the immersive mentorship process, the Fellows will:  

  • Learn necessary skills with hands-on and immersive industry training  
  • Create lasting relationships with key leaders and experts in the industry  
  • Receive capital investment to kick-start their business

To review eligibility requirements, apply to the Preserve the Pit fellowship or to learn more about the fellowship, visit PreserveThePit.com. Follow Kingsford on Instagram and Twitter and www.kingsford.com to stay up to date on the latest company news and offerings.