Bank of America Grant to Hartnell College Will Open New Opportunities for Ag Workers
Hartnell College today announced it has received a multi-year grant of $260,000 from Bank of America that will strengthen its ability to help Salinas Valley agricultural workers succeed and advance in an industry increasingly shaped by technology and automation.
The grant will support Hartnell’s new $2.6 million, three-year Ag Tech Workforce Initiative, which provides training for farm workers so they can move into jobs that require higher skill levels and provide higher pay. The new courses begin in January and will be free and non-credit for workers in Salinas Valley agricultural production, processing and manufacturing with a focus on the areas known as STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
During the hands-on training, participants will earn $15-18 an hour for up to 10 hours a week. The training is expected to lead to full-time job opportunities paying $20-29 per hour, such as food safety technician (in the field and in the plant), human resource technician, frontline agriculture supervisor and small-scale organic farm manager. Anticipated hiring companies include Taylor Farms, Automated Harvesting LLC, Tanimura & Antle, Dole Fresh Vegetables and Braga Fresh.
Clint Cowden, Hartnell’s dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development, said the generous Bank of America grant will be life-changing for workers who participate.
“Bank of America’s focus on racial equity and economic opportunity closely aligns with our own goal of helping workers and agricultural employers adapt to changes in how fresh produce is grown, harvested, packaged and distributed,” Cowden said. “Preparing employees to step into these expanding roles has a ripple effect, not only in their own households but throughout our entire local economy.”
The funding is part of the bank’s five-year, $1.25 billion commitment to advance racial equity and economic opportunity for communities of color disproportionately and other disenfranchised populations disproportionately impacted by the prolonged pandemic.
“The Monterey Bay region is an $8 billion agricultural epicenter, with 80 percent of its field labor force being Hispanic-Latino,” said Jennifer Dacquisto, Bank of America president for the region. “Because the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing economic disparities in communities of color, especially so with our local agricultural farm workers, we are investing into the up-skilling and reskilling of this critical labor force through partnerships with local institutions like Hartnell College. Their Ag Tech Workforce program will go a long way to help those most at risk of job disruption as the ag industry evolves.”
For more information about the Ag Tech Workforce program at Hartnell College, visit https://www.hartnell.edu/academics-affairs/academics/cte/agtech/
Hartnell College is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in California. Founded in 1920 as Salinas Junior College, the school was renamed Hartnell College in 1948, and the Hartnell Community College District was established the following year. Hartnell serves the Salinas Valley, a fertile agricultural region some 10 miles wide and 100 miles long, as well as part of southern San Benito County. Hartnell has a highly diverse student body, of which 56 percent are in their families’ first generation to attend college. About 45 percent of students are women and 55 percent men, with an ethnic makeup that includes 60 percent Hispanic, earning a federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The college is intensely focused on the success of its 17,000 students, who can transfer to four-year universities or immediately begin pursuing rewarding careers in career and technical fields. “Students First” is an ever-present mantra for faculty and staff.
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,200 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs, and award-winning digital banking with approximately 41 million active users, including approximately 33 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Scott Faust, Hartnell College
Colleen Haggerty, Bank of America