Praise Starbucks’ Free Employee Education Plan

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Target: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Goal: Commend Starbucks for investing in its employees’ futures by offering free college courses

Coffee mega-corporation Starbucks has partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to provide free access to online college courses and degrees for all of its U.S. employees. The new program will be open to all 135,000 retail “partners” who work at least 20 hours per week in any Starbucks location and who have the grades and test scores to gain admission to ASU. In an internal survey of its employees, Starbucks found that a whopping 70 percent of them do not have a degree but would like to earn one. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz says he believes the program will “lower attrition… increase performance … [and] attract and retain better people.”

ASU has one of the largest and most highly regarded online degree programs in the United States, offering 40 undergraduate majors as well as a number of certificate programs and graduate degrees. Tuition is usually around $500 per credit hour, with students needing a minimum of 120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degree. Starbucks will pay the full tuition costs of partners who already have at least two years of college credit. For students with less than two years, the company will still pay a portion of the costs, and many courses will be offered free to anyone with interest. The program also includes help with paperwork and academic advising, something that is particularly important for first generation college students, who have a much higher drop-out rate than other students.

Today, roughly half of American students who begin college will fail to earn a degree, largely due to the skyrocketing cost of a college education and the inability to mesh an academic schedule with the needs of a working family. These struggles resonate with Mr. Schultz, who grew up in public housing in Brooklyn and was able to become the first person in his family to go to college because of an athletic scholarship. Applaud Starbucks’ plan to ensure that every employee with the desire to achieve their full academic potential can receive a quality college education.


Dear Mr. Schultz,

Starbucks’ decision to enable thousands of employees to earn a college degree is a perfect example of a corporation looking out for its community, and not just its bottom line. Your message will help hard-working families achieve the American Dream while setting an example for responsible corporate citizenship.

In an ideal world, anyone with the desire to further their education should have access to the tools that will enable them to do so. Thank you for bringing this ideal a little bit closer to reality.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Dave Dugdale via Flickr

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