Hormel Foods announced that starting next year, they will begin offering two years of free college tuition to all the children of their American employees. The program is called “Inspired Pathways,” will begin in the fall of 2021. The new program, which will not be based on achievement in test scores or GPA, is a way to create equality in education admissions—and the company hopes many who take advantage of the offer will be first-generation college students in their families.
A spokesperson for Hormel Foods said the company has over 16,000 domestic employees and the program is open to any dependent child of those workers. The company has more than 30 plant and office locations in the U.S., primarily in the Midwest, and the kids can attend any community college of their choice as long as they graduate from high school and meet the school’s entry requirements. “When you think about how a college education can change lives and start a ripple effect that will be felt for generations, that’s the change-maker Hormel Foods wants to be,” said Jim Snee, the company president and CEO, in a statement.
“Our inspired team consists of some of the most incredibly hardworking and dedicated people you will ever encounter. We have people from all backgrounds and cultures, and it is this diversity that fuels us and makes us the global leader we are in our industry. In some cases, we have team members who never had the opportunity to attend college. This program allows them to give their children that opportunity, creating a new generation of college students. They do so much for us, it’s truly a gift that we are excited to give to them.” said Jim Sheehan, an executive vice president and CFO, in a statement.
The company is investing money into the program and making a large effort to make sure people know about it, encouraging supervisors to reach out to their employees about it and help guide them through the process if they’re interested. The company will be partnering with community colleges in cities where it has operations. Additionally, the company will be creating community mentorship committees to provide resources to the students, including assistance with applications. The program will also work with students on internships and other career development opportunities.
The Hormel Foundation has offered a similar program the past couple years that allowed students from Austin, Minnesota, where the company is headquartered, to attend Riverland Community College free of charge. Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Kranz said the foundation’s program has been instrumental in getting students into college who might not have gone otherwise. “We know that for a fact,” he said.
“Inspired Pathways” is an expanded version of the highly successful Austin Assurance Scholarship, to benefit the high school graduates of Hormel employees across the country, rather than just students who live locally. Additionally, the company offers tuition reimbursement for current team members who go back to school while working at Hormel Foods.