JBS USA and Pilgrim’s announced the launch of Better Futures, a free-of-charge, two-year college tuition program providing more than 66,000 company team members and their dependent children the opportunity to pursue their higher education dreams.
Better Futures removes a major financial barrier to college attendance and stands to become the largest free college tuition program in rural America. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s advisors will also help team members – many from first-generation American families – navigate the application process, which can be a deterrence to people applying to college for the first time.
“Our Better Futures program removes the biggest financial barrier associated with going to college, and it gives our team members and their families the opportunity to reap the benefits an education can provide,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive officer of JBS USA. “We will be delighted if some choose to build or continue their careers with us when they graduate. Yet our larger aim is to unlock rural America’s potential through free college education for our team members and their children.”
To be eligible, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members need only to have worked with the company for the last six months and remain in good standing with the company through completion of their education. College tuition is paid upfront by the company, team members will not need to take out loans to cover tuition and people can pursue whatever program they choose. Better Futures is open to all qualified team members and eligible dependents of team members.
“We believe in the power of education to improve lives, and the Better Futures program is an extension of our promise to offer opportunities for a better future to our team members,” said Fabio Sandri, chief executive officer, Pilgrim’s. “Better Futures will open doors for our team members and their families to learn and grow as they work to achieve their dreams.”
The company is establishing long-term partnerships with community colleges in parts of the country where it operates at a time when community college enrollment rates are shrinking across rural America. As a large employer in many rural communities, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s believe providing free access to community college and technical training programs can help play a role to sustainably build rural economies and make a lasting and meaningful difference in people’s lives.
"We are so pleased to be able to provide quality educational opportunities to the outstanding employees of JBS and members of their families,” said Dr. Matt Gotschall, president of Central Community College. “This is definitely a win-win-win partnership between individuals, private industry and public higher education, which will make a positive difference for generations to come.”
If there is a facility where a college is not conveniently located, the companies will provide an online community college option.
“As a longtime advocate for ensuring access to quality education, I believe Better Futures is the type of corporate initiative that can transform lives, families and communities,” said John Boehner, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, former chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and member of the JBS USA Advisory Board. “I commend the JBS USA team for creating new educational opportunities for so many deserving Americans.”
Many of the program participants will be first-generation college students, and the companies are actively promoting the program with their workforce in multiple languages to encourage participation. The first class of students will be eligible for the upcoming 2021/2022 school year.
“I’m so pleased to see JBS USA providing this opportunity to their colleagues and their families,” said Blanche Lincoln, former Arkansas U.S. Senator and former chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “This commitment is perhaps the most extraordinary example of great corporate citizenship that I’ve heard of in a long time. I look forward to hearing about the many successes this effort will yield over the years to come.”
A number of college partnerships have been established to date, including:
- Riverside, Calif. – Riverside City College, Norco College, and Moreno Valley College of the Riverside Community Council District
- Greeley, Colo. – Aims Community College
- Grand Island, Neb. – Central Community College
- Omaha, Neb. – Metropolitan Community College
- Hyrum, Utah – Bridgerland Technical College
- Online Partner – Rio Salado College
“We are excited to help JBS employees and their families build skills to get in-demand jobs and build rewarding careers,” said Dr. Leah L. Bornstein, CEO and president of Aims Community College. “This not only helps individuals advance their own quality of life, it advances the economic vitality of the community as a whole. That’s what Aims is all about.”
The Better Futures program is part of the companies’ Hometown Strong initiative announced last year. Strengthening the communities where JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members live and work is an ongoing priority. Funding for Better Futures is in addition to the initial $50 million for Hometown Strong investments and will allow the companies to continue advancing the commitment to their team members and people in their hometowns across the country. To learn more, visit betterfutures.jbssa.com.