While attending college is still regarded as a prerequisite for many jobs, college has never been more expensive, and aside from during the Great Depression, the economy has never been worse. So, that makes it even more meaningful that Hormel Foods has announced it will be paying for the community college education of the dependent children of literally all of its employees.
The offer of college tuition assistance and/or reimbursement isn’t an anomaly within the food industry, and Hormel already offers a four-year college scholarship program through the “National Merit Scholarship Corporation.” Its new deal, though, is an interesting one. For starters, the program, which Hormel is calling “Inspired Pathways,” is “designed to be inclusive of all dependent children of Hormel Foods team members and is not based on achievement of a certain test score or GPA.” This helps to make it more accessible for first-generation college students, who are more likely to be minorities, and who are more likely to have lower SAT scores.
The offer of paying for community college is also a better fit for the COVID era. Many four-year colleges and universities are still charging full price even as they transition to entirely online learning, and as a result students are increasingly turning to community colleges instead. One of the selling points of attending a brick-and-mortar four-year university is the experience of being on campus; paying huge sums of money for an experience you’re not really going to receive is something many students aren’t willing to do. Plus, community colleges, which are often maligned, offer a valuable entry point into higher education and can help to funnel students toward four-year degrees (and beyond) if that’s what they’re aiming for.
Hormel’s program will begin in 2021 and partners with community colleges in cities where the company already operates. And, per Hormel, it will be “creating community mentorship committees to provide resources to the students, including assistance with applications.” While the effectiveness of the program remains to be seen, as it’s framed it seems like a comprehensive effort to help elevate the families of its employees, which is welcome news in an era defined by corruption and corporate malfeasance.