Starbucks VP: ASU tuition program ‘great’ for business, employees and country

Corey duBrowa, senior vice president of global communications and international public affairs, visited Arizona State University on Monday. (Photo by Megan Bridgeman/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Corey duBrowa, a senior vice president at Starbucks, said Monday that the Seattle-based company may “blow past” its goal of helping 25,000 employees get degrees by 2025.

DuBrowa, who visited Arizona State University’s downtown campus on Monday for a speaking event at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said employees from all ages and positions are taking advantage of a program aimed at giving them a shot at higher education.

In 2014, the company introduced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which gives all U.S. Starbucks employees the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree through ASU’s online degree program with full tuition coverage.

However, they found that “one in five of our employees, our partners, were finding themselves unable to qualify for admission into the university,” duBrowa said.

Starbucks and ASU recently expanded their partnership to include a new program aimed at helping the 20 percent of employees ineligible for admission into ASU.

The Pathway to Admission program, launched Feb. 7, provides the 15,000 employees who don’t qualify for admission a way to gain entry by taking courses tailored to their needs, said duBrowa, senior vice president of global communications and international public affairs.

Once enrolled, ASU funds 42 percent of tuition costs through scholarships and financial aid, and the student covers the rest until Starbucks reimburses them at the end of the semester, according to Starbucks’ website.

Students can chose between 60 online degree programs, and the student must work an average of 20 hours per week.

DuBrowa said the benefits are twofold. Those who participate in the College Achievement Plan stay twice as long as other employees do, and the program helps to attract motivated, hard-working employees.

Additionally, duBrowa believes the program benefits the country.

“We’re looking at a future in which we need to create more jobs and more opportunities for more people, and we’re access points,” duBrowa said. “It feels like we’re doing something in partnership with ASU that’s great for our business and our shareholders and for our people and maybe equally as important, for the country.”

In 2013, Arizona ranked 20th in its percentage of college graduation rates, with 58.4 percent graduating in six years and 37.2 percent graduating in four years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Starbucks does not have plans to partner with other universities, but they are open to collaborating with ASU outside of the U.S if the opportunity arose, duBrowa said.

Since its launch in 2014, more than 8,600 Starbucks employees have enrolled in the College Achievement Plan. More than 1,000 students are expected to graduate by the end of 2017.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story gave contained inaccurate information about the number of employees company officials hope to help by 2025. The company’s goal is to assist 25,000 employees get degrees. The article also incorrectly stated the number of online degree programs available. Students can choose between 60 programs. The story here has been corrected, but clients who used an earlier version of this story are asked to run the correction that can be found here.