Jack Brewer (B.S. ’01, M.Ed. ’02) isn’t likely to surprise you. He’s guaranteed to surprise you. The founder of The Brewer Group, a successful international business, Brewer has a burning passion for helping eradicate global poverty. A former professional football player, he considers the first female president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, a mentor. The first person in his family to go to college, he holds two degrees from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
Brewer talked with Matt Nelson and Mike Gallagher about his vision for his business, his philanthropic work through the Jack Brewer Foundation, and finding his purpose in life at age 28. Along the way, he offered his views on whether or not college athletes should be paid, diversity at the University of Minnesota, and other current issues.
Here are some excerpts:
On paying college athletes:
If given the choice [again], I would happily take the scholarship, my three meals a day, and my room and board. I would have embraced that because that was my passion and my motivation. But when you force someone into taking a scholarship when they have no intention of going to school or graduating and they’re just there to play football, then you become a detriment to them. Putting a student in a classroom who has no intention of learning helps no one. Wasting resources on students like that doesn’t help anyone. [Student athletes] should have a choice.
On his philosophy of business:
The Brewer Group was born and created out of a vision I had that you could make money and also help empower the world. In everything we do we try to keep those principles and dedicate ourselves, our time, our money, our resources into helping serve the world’s poor.
On coming to the University of Minnesota from his native Texas:
I felt like I was home. People all around really truly accepted me and I just knew I could grow here. . . . The acceptance, the diversity of the U, the effort that’s put toward equality in the state of Minnesota—that’s been the history for years and years and years, and you know, I lived it. To come to a place where you felt like [skin color] was not even an issue was refreshing.