Some companies talk a good game when it comes to taking care of veterans, but Starbucks put its money where its mouth is and was one of the first in the nation to voluntarily raise the salary of its employees to a minimum of $15 per hour.
The national coffee chain, which announced last year that it would offer its employees two years of free undergraduate college tuition, has increased that offer to four years of tuition-free college under its Starbucks College Achievement Plan. And the Seattle-based company recently extended college education benefits to the spouse or child of any military veteran working with the company.
The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is a unique partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) (http://asuonline.asu.edu/) in which eligible employees working at least 20-hours a week can take advantage of more than 50 online degree programs offered by ASU. In addition to the education program, Starbucks provides part-time and full-time employees with a comprehensive benefits package that includes affordable healthcare, a 401(k) plan with a match of 5%, equity in the company in the form of stock and a free pound of coffee every week.
As Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz put it, "We have a responsibility as a nation to honor our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, but it goes beyond saying thank you. We must put our thanks into action and collectively help those who are making the transition from military to civilian life. Not only do we have a moral duty to engage veterans once they leave the service, we know that doing so in a meaningful way will ultimately strengthen our nation."
Starbucks has already covered the tuition of 4,000 employees, who can study whatever they want and are not obligated to stay with the company after earning their degrees.
"Partners like Starbucks play an important role in supporting our efforts and enriching our nation's workforce," said Lisa Anastasi, USO Chief Development Officer. "With our combined commitment to the USO Transition 360 Alliance, we strive to help the nearly half-million service members and their military families who start the process of transitioning out of the military each year."
Starbucks, which has a goal of hiring 10,000 veterans by 2018, is more than halfway to meeting that goal.