SPRINGDALE, Ark. – What began two years ago as a pilot program to teach employees skills to enhance their personal and professional lives at a single Tyson Foods plant, has expanded with more than 1,000 workers participating in the educational programs. To date, more than 100,000 hours of in-plant instruction have been given as part of Tyson’s Upward Academy, which is now offered at 27 plants in four states. Before the fourth quarter of this year, 40 plants will offer the program and plans are to offer it at all the company’s facilities.

Tyson works with community officials to offer free classes that include: English as a second language, General Education Development, citizenship and at some locations, skills such as driver education, computer training and financial literacy are available.

The program has evolved into a critical investment in the company’s front-line workers, said Debra Vernon, senior director of corporate social responsibility at Tyson. “We’re proud of the thousands of hours of instruction that have been offered, but the impact on our team members is truly immeasurable.”

Participants in the program report that the benefit has improved job satisfaction, while enhancing their ability to communicate effectively with supervisors at Tyson as well with other people in the community.