Taylor Farms, which owns Earthbound Farms in San Juan Bautista began accepting applications on Jan 4. for their college scholarship program. It is open to the children of current full-time employees of the company’s food service, retail or Earthbound Farms units. Finalists in the program will receive $5,000 a year for as long as they remain in a four-year undergraduate or graduate program.
Citlalli Solario Villa, a junior at CSU-Monterey Bay, has received the Taylor Farms scholarship for the last three years. Her father, Everardo Solario Garcia, works at the Taylor Farms packing plant in San Juan Bautista.
“For me, it has been uplifting to have received the scholarship and it stops me from worrying about how I am going to pay for college,” Solario Villa said. “It lets me focus on studying and getting my education. My getting the scholarship means a lot to my father and he is very proud of all my hard work to achieve my goals.”
Taylor Farms developed the program 10 years ago, and through a partnership with the Community Foundation of Monterey County it has distributed more than $2 million to 188 students.
“Traditionally, we have given out 20 scholarships a year,” said Taylor Farms Account Manager Julie Laughton. “This year we are giving out 30 because we are definitely seeing a need for funds for educational support. It is a change we are making this year and, hopefully, for the future as well.”
Laughton credits Taylor Farms CEO Bruce Taylor for his support of the program, quoting Taylor as saying, “We are committed to a vibrant America with education as the foundation for opportunity.”
Between 50 and 75 applications are received annually and this year they are due by March 15. Applicants are asked to submit their letters of acceptance and answer three questions:
- Would receiving this scholarship financially impact your ability to attend college?
- Have you demonstrated a positive impact on your community as a volunteer?
- If you had the power to make one change in your community, what would it be and why?
After identifying information is removed to guarantee anonymity, the applications are reviewed by two committees drawn from Taylor Farms employees.
“Once they come up with the finalists, the fun part begins,” Laughton said. “We get to announce the recipients. Each Taylor Farms division has their own award ceremony, and then we get together for a scholarship luncheon in June with the recipients, their parents, and their families.”
“When students fill out that main application, they are applying to the Community Foundation as well as Taylor Farms,” Laughton said. “The application to the Community Foundation is going to be sent out to other organizations who also use the foundation to facilitate their scholarships. Then students will be alerted as to other scholarships they might qualify for that are available.”
While not every applicant will receive a scholarship, applying for one through Taylor Farms can open the door for other opportunities to get money for continuing education.
For example, Laughton said that one recent finalist was able to find another $4,500 in scholarships through the Monterey Community Foundation on top of the $5,000 she received from Taylor Farms.
Taylor Farms is a corporate sponsor of BenitoLink’s paid internship program. BenitoLink offers internships to college-age students giving them hands-on experience in reporting, graphic art, computer development, marketing and business administration.