Snead State Community College has entered into an agreement with Pilgrim’s Pride, a subsidiary of leading global food company JBS, to train its employees for associate degrees and technical certifications in their respective regions.
Snead State and Pilgrim’s signed the agreement on Monday, Feb. 14, to participate in the JBS/Pilgrim’s Better Futures program that offers free college tuition to Pilgrim’s team members and their child dependents.
Pilgrim’s offers to pay the remaining tuition balance – often called a last dollar tuition scholarship – for its workers to train in technical programs that help them succeed. The scholarship is effective after all other aid, including aid granted after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is applied.
“It is common for Alabama’s business and industry to look to Alabama’s community colleges to train their workers, and it’s rewarding to reach agreements with companies and universities all over the state that deliver the whole-student approach in advising and student experiences, right alongside workforce development,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “This agreement is among many that confirm our colleges’ dedication to the communities they serve. We welcome Pilgrim’s workers who choose our colleges and benefit from this agreement.”
Pilgrim’s employees are required to have worked with the company at least six months prior to becoming eligible for the tuition scholarship and to work for the company two years after graduation or completion of a certification.
The agreement started almost a year ago from a conversation with Snead State President Dr. Joe Wilmore and Mr. Pat Allen, the Head of Human Resources Operations for JBS/Pilgrim’s Price.
“We’re excited to celebrate a partnership that started March 16, 2021…Pat Allen and I had a lot of ideas on how we could fulfill this partnership, and we realized this was something that could involve other colleges within the Alabama Community College System. I reached out to Olivier Charles (ACCS Vice Chancellor for Student Success), and he involved his team to help make this happen,” said Dr. Whitmore.
As a result of the conversation that began at Snead State, similar agreements for employee scholarships and professional development were signed with Pilgrim’s at Northwest Shoals Community College and Enterprise State Community College. Each of the colleges is within a region where a Pilgrim’s facility is located.
“We are excited to partner with these colleges to offer this incredible benefit to our team members and their children,” said Corey Friend, JBS/Pilgrim’s Better Futures program manager. “This program will provide deserving individuals the opportunity to pursue their dreams for higher education and strengthen Alabama communities for generations to come.”
“At Pilgrim’s, we strive to take care of our people, and one way we can do that is with education,” said Mr. Allen. “Our vision is to be the best and most respected company, but the way behind that vision is just as important. We want to provide a better future for our team members. I want to thank everyone at Snead for working with us, and I am thankful for the support we’ve received from the community.”
In addition to JBS/Pilgrim’s offering the last dollar tuition scholarship, Snead State committed to offering specialized advising, financial literacy and professional development to Pilgrim’s employees who choose to attend.
“This is a win-win-win partnership. It’s a win for Snead State because it’s an opportunity for us to fulfill a mission to provide workforce experiences for our community and to reach out to students who may not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue a college education,” said Dr. Whitmore. “It’s a win for Pilgrim’s because a program like this will boost the morale of their employees as well as improve retention and open up a pool of candidates to move up within the company to upper level positions. And it’s a win for students who are able to take part in this educational opportunity.”
“When the Better Futures program rolled out, I was glad to give this opportunity to our team members. I am thrilled that we are able to have Snead State involved. I expect great involvement from our team members. Many of them who will take advantage of this program will be first generation college students, and they will have access to resources to help them navigate the application process,” said Cliff Rule, Plant Manager for Pilgrim’s Pride in Guntersville, the largest facility in the state.
Frederick Jarvis, a production supervisor at the Guntersville facility, will be one to take advantage of the Better Futures program. While he’s not a first-generation college student, he is excited to set the example for his children in pursuing a college education.
“I have never been to college in my life. I always thought about it, but it was financially not an option for me. I’m very excited about this, and I can’t wait to get started. I started with the company in an entry-level position, and I’ve been able to move up within the company. Now, I plan to pursue business administration, so I can continue to move up to a more administrative role with Pilgrim’s Pride. I didn’t know where to start to make this happen, but this program pretty much sealed the deal for me,” said Jarvis. “It’s a blessing. I’m thankful because it’s something I could never dream of before now.”
Vice Chancellor Charles added, “I am happy to be a part of this. It is rare to see a company put so much forward for their employees, and I’m thankful to Pilgrim’s for willing to partner with our schools to help our students and our community. Education is the best tool for someone to improve their circumstances, and this is an example of how we can all come together to make that happen.”