Blog: Latino Ed Beat

How Will Starbucks Tuition Program Impact Latinos?

Starbucks made a splash Monday when the company announced plans to pay tuition for its employees to take online classes from Arizona State University. 

Employees who are admitted as juniors or seniors will receive full tuition scholarships, those with less will receive partial scholarships.

To qualify, employees must work at least 20 hours a week and qualify to be admitted to Arizona State.

While the program is not explicitly designated as benefitting minorities, it is clear that many of those Starbucks employees who stand to benefit are Latino.

In a publicity video about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a Hispanic mother tells her son “congratulations mi’jo” (my son in Spanish) when she learns about the scholarship opportunity.

The New York Times reported how barista Michael Bojorquez Echevarria, 23, the son of Mexican immigrants living in California, saw how his parents were limited by a lack of education. 

The Times reported that he already is studying for an associate’s degree in sociology and works 60 hours a week at Starbucks. 

“Imagine just waking up one day and knowing that your whole degree would be paid for, and the only thing you have to do is enroll and study and be a good student,” he told the newspaper. It would change my lifestyle, the whole dynamic of what I do every day.” 

Starbucks also shared the story of Tammie Lopez, who went to work after graduating high school when her father lost his job as a construction company manager in California. She said she cut back on college study hours to help her family with mortgage and car payments.

“I’ve seen documentaries where people have their school paid for and I always thought those people are blessed,” she said. 

According to The Times, Arizona State’s online programs offer more than 40 undergraduate majors and enroll more than 11,000 students. 

It will be interesting to see how many students enroll — and more importantly, how many actually earn a degree within the next two to six years.