Starbucks College Achievement Plan helps thousands of employees with 100% tuition coverage

Starbucks College Achievement Plan helps thousands of employees with 100% tuition coverage

January 2 - 2024

Coffee Geography Magazine

Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) where employees earn their bachelor’s degree online from ASU with 100% tuition coverage supports over 12000 of them to graduate this winter alone. SCAP sets a plan to reach 25000 participants in the program to graduate by 2025. The online program has over 140 degrees available where nearly 90% of Starbucks stores in the U.S. have at least one employee in the program.

Evans K.: Giving back through education

Evans K

Evans K

Coffee is at the root of Evans K.’s family. His grandparents had a coffee farm in Uganda that supported their family. And his father worked for a cooperative bank that served coffee farmers. So, after Evans immigrated to the United States five years ago, the idea of working at Starbucks and returning to coffee seemed like a natural fit for him. “(When I applied) I had never been inside a Starbucks store or even had a Starbucks drink but I had heard a lot of good things about the company and how it takes care of its employees,” said Evans, who mostly drank black coffee until that point. “I was pleasantly surprised when my hiring manager at the time gave me the job even though I didn’t know what a cappuccino was.”

Soon, he learned about the SCAP program, which would offer him a chance to go to school and finish the bachelor’s degree he had started before he left Uganda. “It took me a while to actually get back to school but what made me stay with the company regardless was the warmth of the people,” said Evans, a shift supervisor in Virginia. “From the partners to the customers, everyone was so friendly and supportive and it was nothing like I had experienced.” Evans graduated this summer with a bachelor’s degree in political science. This fall, he did a fellowship with The Starbucks Foundation where he was able to learn about Starbucks relationship with coffee farmers in different countries. “Farmers contributed to getting me to where I am today – and coffee – so I wanted to see how we help them around the world,” he said. Evans is continuing his education and is now earning a master’s degree in international affairs and leadership and dreams of perhaps returning to Uganda to help others there. “My future goals are to use my degree gained through the SCAP program to impact communities both here and abroad,” he said. “I am an immigrant and through my scholar work I am serving my community by supporting newly arrived refugees in the area. I am looking forward to telling these truly inspiring and wonderful impact stories back in my store, my community and wherever I go.”

Kaylen P.: ‘At the threshold of realizing my dream’

Kaylen P

Kaylen P

When Kaylen P., a barista in New Mexico, was working as a bartender, she met her now-husband Mark, and she remembers talking late into the night about their goals and aspirations. “I consistently spoke about my desire to return to school. When the pandemic disrupted my employment, leaving us both uncertain about the future,” she recalled. “Mark continued to stand by my side and provided unwavering support for me to pursue my dream of returning to education.” He encouraged her to look for opportunities online, which is where she discovered SCAP. “The sheer magnitude of what this program offered left me in disbelief,” she said.

She got a job at Starbucks and soon enrolled in SCAP. For Kaylen, education is in her blood. Her mom is a high school teacher with multiple bachelor’s degrees. “From a young age, my mother consistently emphasized the value of education, encouraging us to embrace learning as a lifelong pursuit,” Kaylen said. 

While she was attending ASU, her mom started a small fund to help pay for textbooks and whenever Kaylen bought a new one, she’d reach out to tell her about it so they could share the excitement of what she was learning. This week, her mom will be at ASU to see her earn her degree in technological entrepreneurship and management, a degree she says is “inherently linked to the spirit of innovation and the drive to create a better world." 

Kaylen lives near a national laboratory where research is happening in the areas of biomedicine, green fuel, supercomputing and more. 

With her degree, she plans to be part of that kind of life-changing work. “Now, I stand at the threshold of realizing my dream,” she said. “I am resolute in my commitment to contribute to and serve my community.”

Patricia M.: Changing a family’s trajectory

Patricia M

Patricia M

When Patricia M. walks across the stage at Arizona State University this week to receive her bachelor’s degree, the love and dreams of generations of her family – both here and long gone, each wanting a better life for their children, will be propelling her forward. 

“It feels like I changed the trajectory of my family history,” said Patricia, a Starbucks employee who is the first in her family to go to college. 

Her mother, Esmerelda, was 7 when she and some of her siblings immigrated to the United States from one of the southernmost parts of Mexico, walking the entire journey, with little food or water.

It wasn’t until Patricia was an adult that she truly understood the sacrifices her mom made, but she knew that she did it because she wanted more for her own children.

 “(My mom) always said, ‘You know, I always pushed you and your sister, because I wanted you guys to be on top of the world.’,” said Patricia. “When I cross that stage, that's the only way I can explain how I'll feel is I'll feel like I'm on top of the world and I have the same equal opportunity that other people have.” 

Patricia grew up in central California, where many of her extended family worked long hours stacking hay and picking citrus fruits, berries and nuts. She’s always known that when money is tight, things can be fleeting – but not a college degree.

“My (mom) would always tell me, ‘No one can take away your degree. That is something that you earned. That is something with your name on it and no one could ever take that away from you.’ And I think that that is very powerful. You know, as woman, in general, especially in this day and age, it's very hard to have anything that is truly yours. But putting in the hard work and the hours, as much as you want to quit, it's something that will never be taken away from you.” After Patricia started working at Starbucks five years ago, she heard about the Starbucks College Achievement Program and decided to enroll, going to school while working full-time as a barista. Several months ago, she became a payroll analyst associate at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle. She’s had a lifelong love of writing and chose to earn her degree in mass communication and media studies. Looking ahead, she wants to be able to tell the stories of the community where she grew up. 

“My biggest dream and long-term goal are to document the lives of the field workers who are responsible for putting food on everyone's tables and painting their image as it remains: fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters,” she said. “I genuinely think that the people in the community that I come from are some of the best people because they are able to extend empathy beyond themselves … beyond their children, they think about their grandchildren.” 

Having a degree, she knows, opens the door to a different future, where possibilities that didn’t exist now unspool before her. She’s on the cusp of the rest of her life, to do with as she chooses. “When I got my degree, I felt like I changed something. I still don’t even know what it is.”