In 2015, McDonald’s launched Archways to Opportunity, a comprehensive education program that provides eligible U.S. employees at participating restaurants an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language. In the first year of the program, the company saw nearly 5,000 restaurant employees enroll to receive the education offerings. Now, in year two, participation in the program has more than doubled with a 238 percent increase in enrollment. This acceleration signals the clear interest and need for workforce development programs that help people achieve their dreams, no matter where they are on their personal journey.
A new success story is Yenis Blanco, a young woman who recently moved to America and got her first job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Washington, D.C, owned and operated by Ron Gantt. Prior to joining the company, Yenis spoke little to no English. With the help of McDonald’s and her independent franchisee, Yenis was able to learn English as a second language and earn her high school diploma. Now five years later, she manages a large restaurant team and is pursing higher education to become a law enforcement officer.
“McDonald’s gave me an opportunity to learn English as a second language, and it really helped me. It gave me the confidence to pursue other things I wanted to achieve,” she said. Yenis is just one of nearly 17,000 people who have benefited from Archways to Opportunity.
“Given our scale, McDonald’s and our independent franchisees believe we have a responsibility to advance the next generation of workers and give back to the communities in which they live and work,” says Rob Lauber, Global Chief Learning Officer. “Restaurant employees have told us they are looking for an opportunity to build new skills and receive an education. It’s wonderful to see Archways to Opportunity participation double over the course of a year as it illustrates that the program is making a difference for our people. This program is just one of the many ways we are committed to being America’s best first job for restaurant employees—we are not only a job, but a step in helping build careers.”
This spring, Archways to Opportunity also marks another milestone: celebrating its first 100 high school diploma graduates. Restaurant employees earn high school diplomas at no cost from the nationally-accredited Career Online High School program through Cengage. Nearly 40 million American adults do not have a high school diploma according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. McDonald’s wants to be part of the solution to this national challenge.
Partners like Career Online High School help make it possible to offer eligible U.S. restaurant employees—like Yenis Blanco—the opportunity to earn accredited high school diplomas and career certificates.
“Career Online High School offers a flexible way for students to earn a nationally accredited high school diploma and workforce readiness certificate,” says Dr. Howard Liebman, superintendent, Career Online High School and founder of Smart Horizons Career Online Education. “We are excited to help McDonald’s restaurant employees build their skill and education levels to expand their career and life opportunities.”