SEATTLE -- The Seattle-based coffee giant known for offering baristas health care and retirement plans is now adding a new benefit: college tuition.
Starbucks’ new college achievement program is already brewing excitement with employees.
“I have to work full time to support myself, and it’s really hard to get financial aid and loans to go back to school,” said Sarah O’Brien, assistant manager at a Starbucks SODO location. “The fact that Starbucks is providing me the opportunity to do this is a blessing.”
O’Brien said the new tuition program will finally allow her to get her bachelor’s in business management. She’ll be the first in her family to finish college, and shared the news with her mother last night.
“She bent over her entire life to give us everything,” O’Brien said with tears in her eyes. “She just wants the best for kids and I want to make her proud.”
It’s a story that rings true for the Starbucks CEO himself.
”I was fortunate enough to be the first person in my family to go to and graduate from college,” said Howard Schultz in New York on Monday. He says the partnership with Arizona State University makes his 135,000 employees eligible for a full tuition reimbursement through the school’s online degree program, for those who already have two years of college under their belt. The offer comes with no strings attached.
Why do it? The owner of Dick’s Drive-in, who has offered a similar program to his employees on a smaller scale, offered his perspective.
“By offering the scholarship program, we get better employees who give better customer service, and so that comes back to us,” said Jim Spady, VP of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants. “But it’s also a value. When you have a family business, you run it in accordance with family values.”
While she’d be free to pursue a career elsewhere, O’Brien will use her business degree to hopefully move up in the company she already works for.
”They’ve treated me really well,” said O’Brien.
Starbucks employees can choose from 40 different majors in ASU’s online program. Those employees do not need to commit to stay with the company after they graduate.