Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz and Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow announced that Starbucks and ASU will team up to offer the Starbucks College Achievement Plan to put an affordable college education within the reach of thousands of full-time and part-time Starbucks employees.
U.S. employees who work 20 hours per week at any Starbucks-operated store, including Teavana, La Boulange, Evolution Fresh, and Seattle’s Best Coffee locations, will receive full tuition reimbursement to finish a bachelor’s degree through any of the more than 40 undergraduate programs that ASU offers online. Students admitted as juniors or seniors will receive full tuition reimbursement, while those admitted as freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for partial-tuition scholarships and need-based aid for the first two years of full-time study. (Starbucks didn’t reveal the financial terms of the partnership.) Employees won’t be required to stay at Starbucks after they graduate.
The partnership with ASU brings the latest in a series of headlines demonstrating Starbucks’s interest in using technology to innovate everyday experiences. The chain has been innovative on that front, launching free Wi-Fi in 2010, accepting mobile payments, testing an app to take mobile orders, and now deploying Duracell Powermats to offer free phone charging in Starbucks and Teavana stores (even if few phones actually have the capability for wireless charging built in, as Bloomberg reports.) The announcement of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan shows not only that Starbucks is willing to make an impressive investment in its employees, but that the company’s interest in technology extends beyond the needs of its own stores.