Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday.
The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid.
“Starbucks is going where no other major corporation has gone,” said Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive of the Lumina Foundation, a group focused on education. “For many of these Starbucks employees, an online university education is the only reasonable way they’re going to get a bachelor’s degree.”
Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, was an adolescent boy in a small Alabama town in the early 1970s when he saw something he couldn’t forget.
Bicycling home on a new 10-speed, he passed a large cross in flames in front of a house — one that he knew belonged to a black family. Around the cross were Klansmen, dressed in white cloaks and hoods, chanting racial slurs. Mr. Cook heard glass break, maybe someone throwing something through a window. He yelled, “Stop!”
One of the men lifted his conical hood, and Mr. Cook recognized a deacon from a local church (not Mr. Cook’s). Startled, he pedaled away.
“This image was permanently imprinted in my brain, and it would change my life forever,” Mr. Cook said of the burning cross, in a speech he gave last December.
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