How about some good news for a change?

A couple of local businesses have teamed up with Angelina College to give employees and their families an excellent opportunity.  According to a media release from Angelina College, Pilgrim’s Lufkin and Pilgrim’s Nacogdoches recently announced a partnership with Angelina College to provide free tuition to qualifying team members and their dependents. The first class of students will be eligible for the upcoming 2021/2022 school year.

The nationwide program, Pilgrim’s Better Futures, removes a major financial barrier to college attendance and stands to become the largest free community college tuition program in rural America. Pilgrim’s and Angelina College representatives 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.

“Pilgrim’s Lufkin is grateful for our partnership with Angelina College to provide quality education opportunities for our team members and their children,” said Nathan McDowell, Pilgrim’s Lufkin plant manager. “Removing barriers to obtaining a college degree or technical certificate will provide significant opportunities that benefit the Lufkin community.”

“We deeply appreciate having a partner who believes in good corporate citizenship by investing in its employees and by investing in the communities that it serves,” said Dr. Michael Simon, president, Angelina College. “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship to benefit the Pilgrim’s employees.”

As a large employer in many rural communities, Pilgrim’s believes providing access to community college and technical training programs can help play a role in sustainably building rural economies and making a lasting and meaningful difference in people’s lives.

“There are brighter and better futures ahead for the Nacogdoches community,” said Jose Cabrera, Pilgrim’s Nacogdoches plant manager. “Pilgrim’s Nacogdoches is excited for our partnership with Angelina College to offer convenient tuition-free education and training for both our team members and their dependents.”

"With the wide variety of programs and certificates that Angelina College offers, the employees will have a multitude of course options available to them,” said Krista Brown, executive director of marketing and strategic enrollment, Angelina College. “We will provide online, in-person, and hybrid classes to the employees and dependents. In addition, we remove any barriers by having our admissions, financial aid, and registration teams complete those processes at the respective plant. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the Pilgrim's employees and their dependents.”

The Better Futures program, announced in March, is part of the company’s Hometown Strong initiative announced last year. Strengthening the communities where Pilgrim’s team members live and work is an ongoing priority.

Funding for Better Futures is in addition to the initial $20 million investment from Pilgrim’s for Hometown Strong. This investment will allow Pilgrim’s to continue advancing the commitment to its team members and people in communities across the country. To learn more, visit

Together, the Pilgrim’s Lufkin and Nacogdoches facilities employee nearly 3,000 people with a combined annual payroll of around $120 million.

Pictured above are (L-R) Krista Brown, Angelina College Executive Director of Marketing and Strategic Enrollment; Christian Dempsey, Pilgrim’s Pride Complex Manager; Arturo Fernandez, Pilgrim’s Pride Human Resources Manager; and Dr. Michael Simon, president of Angelina College.


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