Helping our team members succeed is not only the right thing to do, but also benefits our business by increasing retention. By educating and investing in our people, we encourage them to stay with us for the long term. Many of our front-line team members are new immigrants to the U.S. and come from dozens of different countries; up to 50 different countries may be represented within a single plant in some instances. A general lack of access to resources has also left many team members with low literacy, limited English proficiency and skills gaps.
Our Corporate Social Responsibility team aims to address these unique and shifting challenges through our innovative team member education program, Upward Academy. In partnership with local community organizations, Upward Academy helps team members develop important life skills, offering free and accessible classes in English as a Second Language (ESL), High School Equivalency (HSE), U.S. citizenship, financial literacy and digital literacy. To make it as easy as possible for team members to attend, we offer classes in our plants immediately before and after shifts.
After piloting the program in 2016, all surveyed team members who participated reported being more satisfied at work after attending Upward Academy classes. A return on investment interim report in 2018 revealed that Upward Academy realized a 123 percent return on team member retention in 16 poultry plants. Learn more about the results of this study in this video. Based on this success, Tyson has committed to making Upward Academy available to all U.S. team members within the next few years.
To that end, we significantly expanded the program over the last year. We launched Upward Academy in 18 new plants in four new states, including Arkansas, Nebraska, North Carolina and Texas. By the end of FY2018 we had deployed Upward Academy to 33 Tyson Foods processing plants in six states (AR, NE, NC, NJ, MO, TX). In April 2018, we reached a major milestone, surpassing 100,000 hours of instruction for the program. At the close of FY2018, we logged more than 160,000 hours of instruction.