Blog with Rob: Starbucks Helping Baristas Beat the Grind… With College

Starbucks is well known for its forward thinking, sometimes unusual and often ground breaking decisions so it’s no surprise to see the company back in the news, this time for its new partnership with Arizona State.

Starbuck’s recently announced that they will provide greatly reduced or free tuition to help baristas working 20 hours or more a week complete an online degree through a new program with Arizona State University. Starbucks already had a partnership with City University of Seattle and Strayer University which will be phased out over the next year; however this new program is far more generous.

There are no exact numbers yet but Arizona State is preparing for thousands of new enrollments as baristas rush to take advantage of the ground-breaking employment benefit. And while Starbucks’ CEO acknowledges that people will complete degrees and leave the company, he also recognizes that it will help boost hiring and employee retainment while enhancing performance.

So why this new benefit? The company says that in its employee surveys some of its strongest results concern higher education. Seventy percent of Starbucks employees do not have a degree but want to earn one; some have never gone to college, some have gone but dropped out, and others are in school, but have found it slow going.

Personally, I’m with Schultz – this has the potential to transform their employee base as droves of talented young people struggling to afford starting or completing college turn to the company to help them complete their degree. I also can’t help but admire Schultz’s vision and determination. It just goes to show that we can all make a difference, not matter how big or small.

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Rob Basso is a recognized small business expert, successful business owner and entrepreneur.

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