In his book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote, "From the beginning of my management of Starbucks, I wanted it to be the employer of choice, the company everybody wanted to work for."
Starbucks just took one more step toward (re)affirming that goal.
Starbucks employees nationwide will be eligible for a free college education through Arizona State University's online program beginning this fall.
The new initiative, touted as the first of its kind, will allow many of Starbucks' 135,000 workers to graduate debt free from ASU with no requirement to repay or stay on with the company. The funding will come from a partnership between ASU and Starbucks. . . .
Under the program, Starbucks employees who work at least 20 hours a week will receive full tuition reimbursement if they enroll in ASU's online program as juniors or seniors.
Others will be able to apply for scholarships worth $6,500, on average, if they enroll as freshmen or sophomores in ASU's online program. And ASU advisers will help them apply for other, need-based financial aid, including coveted Pell Grants, the university said.
The ASU-Starbucks initiative emerged almost a year ago, when ASU President Michael Crow approached Schultz about ways to make college education more affordable.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this new educational opportunity "is the most significant benefit [Starbucks] has rolled out since it introduced health-care coverage and stock options more than 20 years ago. Each of those programs cost the company more than $200 million last year."
I imagine we'll see more of these partnerships in the future. With private school tuition (including room and board) now regularly exceeding $40,000, different options are desperately needed. Even with substantial financial aid, students are finding college unaffordable.
I have to mention, however, that the ASU-Starbucks partnership is not totally new. Jesuit education, at the high school level, has already seen these kinds of collaborations with its Cristo Rey network of schools. Students at these schools participate in a Work Study program with local businesses that ends up funding the majority of their tuition. See here to learn more about this network.