PR Brilliance: Starbucks Rebuilds the American Dream

Image By Karoline Etter, VP of Chapter Development

Student loans can pile up quicker than you can rattle off your order to your local Starbucks barista, meanwhile,  that barista is pursuing her bachelor’s degree and graduating without debt. 

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We spend our whole lives striving to do well in high school so we will be accepted to a good college. Once we get into college, we pull all-nighters and take extra classes while working minimum wage jobs so that we will graduate with a higher paying job in the communications field. That higher-paying job we so desperately try to land is necessary in order for us to support ourselves after we pay off our student loans month after month. All of the hard work we put in is to reach the American Dream. 

Well, what if we didn’t have to worry about those student loans? What if that minimum-wage job you were working provided you with benefits which included a full reimbursement for your college education? Starbucks shocked the country with their new “College Achievement Plan.”  This is a great example of a business strategy that public relations calls “corporate social responsibility.”

Every employee working an average of 20 hours per week in any one of the company’s support centers, plants or company-operated stores (Teavana, La Boulange, Evolution Fresh and Seattle’s Best Coffee stores) is eligible to receive full reimbursement for their Bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University Online. There are 40 award-winning undergraduate programs to choose from including education, electrical engineering, business and retail management. 

“We’re proud to help thousands of our partners build bright future– whether they aspire to build a career at Starbucks or beyond,” is stated on the Starbucks website.

Any partner of Starbucks admitted as a Junior or Senior to Arizona State University is eligible for full reimbursement, while Freshman and Sophomores can qualify for special scholarships and financial aid. Starbucks has created a path of achievement for their partners by providing custom-built support, a dedicated enrollment coach, a financial aid counselor and an academic advisor for each student enrolled in this program. There is no commitment needed for these student to remain with the company past graduation. 

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“This is going to give our partners hope, opportunity and the freedom to believe in themselves and their careers for the long term,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. 

This is a win/win for Starbucks as a company. Many people will be turning to Starbucks as not only loyal employees but as loyal customers as well. Personally, I have now been to Starbucks twice as much this week than I have been any other week because of this phenomenal encouragement they are providing for their aspiring partners and all college students across the country.

From a PR standpoint, the College Achievement Plan is pure brilliance. Starbucks has had some stellar PR moves lately including the “secret menu” and the College Achievement Plan. The “secret menu” is a list of different and out-of-the-box items found online and not on the menu in the cafe, but the barista will know what you’re ordering. Starbucks is ahead of the game in getting people talking about what they have to offer. They have created a whirlwind of positive buzz around their company’s name while helping their partners to achieve their American Dream. What more could you want from a company?

Sources:

http://www.starbucks.com/careers/college-plan

http://news.starbucks.com/collegeplan/schultz-crow-personal-meaning-of-benefit

Strauss, Valerie. The Huffington Post. Starbucks to offer employees free tuition to complete online bachelors degree. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/15/starbucks-to-offer-employees-free-tuition-to-complete-online-bachelors-degree/

Images:

http://www.starbucks.com/careers/college-plan

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