Cornell is being recognized for its interdisciplinary farmworker research and collaboration initiatives, which collectively benefit thousands of farmworkers in 40 counties across New York state and beyond. Identifying priorities through participatory research, faculty, staff, and students collaborate with farmworkers to build capacity to fulfill aspirations, strengthen collective efficacy, and address challenges.
Since 1966, the Cornell Farmworker Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has provided statewide leadership supporting migrant farmworkers in housing improvements, health pesticide training, and education. Cornell’s support of farmworkers has grown to include other schools at the university, including the SC Johnson College of Business and the Cornell Law School — and more than 50 community partners. More than 365 Cornell students participate annually to support thousands of farmworkers and farmworker-focused organizations across 11 university departments.
“We applaud Cornell for its comprehensive work to improve the lives of farmworkers,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public and land-grant universities play a unique role in serving underserved populations. Cornell’s community engagement work powerfully illustrates the impact an institution can have – not just on a specific population, but across an entire region.”
"Cornell is both honored to accept this award and grateful to the hundreds of individuals who have contributed to our farmworker programs—from community partners to students, faculty, and staff," said Cornell president Martha E. Pollack. "The prize will be put to good use to advance university-farmworker engagement across the country."
Cornell’s comprehensive programming around farmworkers includes farmworker capacity-building workshops; a legal assistance clinic, one of the country’s only law-school based, farmworker-focused clinics, which is focused on deportation defense, employment litigation and policy research; the low-income taxpayer program, a first-of-its-kind course through which accounting and law students work together to assist farmworkers and other low-income workers with complex and back-year tax returns; as well as dozens of hands-on student curricular and research programs. The work also includes the development of training materials and activities and research resulting in seven scholarly publications and dozens of policy papers and practitioner publications. Cornell is regularly consulted on program design as well as on federal, state, and local farmworker policy.
In June, Cornell was named one of four regional winners of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. Those regional winners, named in collaboration with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, automatically became finalists for the national Magrath Award. The other regional winners of the 2019 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award were Colorado State University, University of Louisville, and Purdue University. Each of the three other W.K. Kellogg Award winners received $5,000 to support their community engagement efforts.
The Magrath Award carries a $20,000 award, which Cornell plans to use on outreach to other land grant universities and to convene the first national conference on university farmworker engagement.