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Hormel offers college program for employees' kids

A representative for the company said the new program is a way to help create equality in education, and that many of those who take advantage of it likely will be first-generation college students.

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Hormel Foods announced Tuesday that it will begin offering two years' worth of college to the children of its employees.

Called “Inspired Pathways," the program will begin in the fall of 2021. A representative for Hormel Foods said the company has 16,000 domestic employees. He said it’s not clear yet how much the company will spend on the program, but that it’s open to the children of any of those workers.

“Our goal is that it costs us a lot; we want as many people to go as possible,” said Jim Sheehan, executive vice president and CFO of Hormel Foods.

RELATED: Free college? It's happening in Austin

The company isn't just investing money into the program. Sheehan said they're 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.

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There are no restrictions on the program in terms of GPA requirements or test scores. Sheehan said the program is a way to help create equality in education, by helping those who may not have experience with the college process.

“A lot of these children will be first-generation college students — we’re excited about that,” he said. “(We asked ourselves) how can we help those people who may not have the full opportunities others do? It’s through helping them educate their children. Let’s give them a step up.”

The Hormel Foundation has had a similar program the past couple years. That program allows students from Austin to attend Riverland Community College free of charge. The press release about the new Inspired Pathways program says it “follows the highly successful Hormel Foundation Austin Assurance Scholarship which benefits all high school students who live in Austin, Minnesota.”

In some ways, the new program will be an expanded version of that, benefiting the children of Hormel employees across the country, rather than just students who live in Austin.

“The advantage that the foundation has given our employees’ children in Austin will now be available across the nation for our employees,” Sheehan said.

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.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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