Veterans who work at Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) just got a big perk. The company will pay for the college educations of their spouses and children. It is another step along the way as CEO Howard Schultz attempts to improve the lives of his lower level employees who are paid modest wages.
According to a press release:
Starbucks, which already offers a tuition-free education to eligible U.S. partners through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, also announced today it is providing partners who are current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with an additional tuition-free education to extend to a spouse or child. More than 4,000 partners already take advantage of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan education benefit in partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to earn a bachelor’s degree with 100 percent tuition coverage. ASU, with nearly 4,200 veterans and 1,000 military family members enrolled at the university, also demonstrates a strong commitment to veterans and military families through scholarships and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and has been named one of the nation’s “Best for Vets” colleges by the Military Times.
Starbucks has hired 5,500 veteran and veteran spouses already, against a 2018 goal of 10,000.
As fast-food chains and major retailers fight the perception that at minimum wages their employees do not earn a living wage, most of these companies have battled to keep pay low. Pressure on them has caused Wal-Mart to increase pay, which it says hurt its earnings. It remains to be seen whether the Starbucks college benefit will hurt its earnings. In the meantime, Schultz has come up with an extraordinary benefit.