Starbucks and Arizona State University have announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a program designed to unleash lifetime opportunity for thousands of eligible part-time and full-time U.S. employees.
Starbucks chairman, president, and CEO Howard Schultz will host the first Partner Family Forum in the U.S. in New York’s Times Center and will join ASU president Dr. Michael M. Crow and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to officially launch the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. This investment will create an opportunity for eligible employees to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement for juniors and seniors, through a unique collaboration with ASU’s research-driven online program.
Through this collaboration, employees based in the U.S. working an average of 20 hours per week at any company-operated store (including Teavana, La Boulange, Evolution Fresh and Seattle’s Best Coffee stores) may choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs taught by ASU’s award-winning faculty such as electrical engineering, education, business, and retail management. Employees admitted to ASU as a junior or senior will earn full tuition reimbursement for each semester of full-time coursework they complete toward a bachelor’s degree. Freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid for two years of full-time study. Employees will have no commitment to remain at the company past graduation.
“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American Dream. There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it,” Schultz says. “Supporting our employees’ ambitions is the very best investment Starbucks can make. Everyone who works as hard as our employees do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives.”
Starbucks investment is designed to support the nearly 50 percent of college students in the U.S. today who fail to complete their degrees due to mounting debt, a tenuous work-life balance and a lack of support. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is created specifically for the company’s employees and aims to provide an excellent academic foundation along with the flexibility, financing and comprehensive support that working students need to complete their degree.
“ASU is pioneering a new university model focused on inclusivity and degree completion, and Starbucks is establishing a new precedent for the responsibility and role of a public company that leads through the lens of humanity and supports its employees’ life goals with access to education,” says ASU president Dr. Michael M. Crow. “We are very pleased to collaborate with Starbucks, who has impressed us with its strong commitment to its employees by providing this unique opportunity for a first-class college education. ASU has the vision, programs, and scale to deliver it to Starbucks employees in every part of the country.”
ASU is gaining national attention for its efforts to increase access to high-quality, rigorous education with a focus on inclusion and impact. ASU is ranked the second most innovative school in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and ranks fifth in the nation in producing the best-qualified graduates, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of campus recruiters. Additionally, ASU is among the top producers of students awarded Fulbright scholarships to study and teach abroad, now ranking third in the nation for research institutions, tied with Princeton and Rutgers, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“Our investment in high-quality education will attract and retain passionate employees who will move our company and our economy forward,” Schultz says. “ASU’s commitment to provide any talented student from any family background and any income level with a top-notch education makes it the singular partner for Starbucks.”
“I was put here to play music, and my goal is to change someone’s life—at least one. I want to teach at a university, and for that, you need a college degree. For me, the opportunity to earn my degree means I have the chance to teach others and make a better life for myself and my mom who raised me and my three siblings on her own,” says Abraham Cervantes, who has been a Starbucks barista for two years.
In addition to financial support, Starbucks and ASU have developed an innovative retention model to support the unique needs of working students. Employees will have a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor, and academic advisor to support them through graduation. The program also will include adaptive learning services to help students progress at the right pace for them, networking and community-building opportunities, and additional resources to help students plan their educations.
“We applaud Starbucks leadership and vision in the creation of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan,” says Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “By so clearly investing in its talent, Starbucks is providing employees with the opportunity to complete college—an investment that will pay off for them as individuals, for the company and for the nation, for generations to come.”
“Those who’ve been clamoring for bold, new initiatives to reduce the barriers to quality higher education in America should applaud this announcement,” Crow added. “As others follow Starbucks example, we will hear those barriers come crashing down, to the lasting benefit of all Americans.”
The alliance between Starbucks and ASU was inspired by participation in the Markle Economic Future Initiative, co-chaired by Howard Schultz and Markle President Zoë Baird, with Dr. Michael Crow as one of its members.
“This pioneering collaboration between Starbucks and ASU is exactly the kind of innovative action this country needs to help Americans reach their dreams,” Zoë Baird says. “This is a break-through in using online learning backed by the financial resources that make it possible to participate. America urgently needs leadership to help people successfully transition to today’s economic realities. Howard Schultz and Dr. Michael Crow understand the challenges we are facing as a nation. Their commitment to the Markle Initiative and to embracing a more hopeful vision of America’s economic future is a path I encourage all leaders to follow.”