At the beginning of April, Starbucks announced an expansion of its college tuition assistance program, which now covers four years of schooling instead of just two through a partnership with Arizona State University's online degree program. According to Starbucks, at least 2,000 people have already enrolled in the program, but not all baristas have embraced the program with open arms.
Amanda Ripley, who spoke with a number of Starbucks employees for her cover story in May's issue of The Atlantic, told HuffPost Live that many baristas thought the program was too good to be true at first.
"One of the biggest challenges that the company had was convincing their employees that this was real, that there was no sort of secret clause that would make them have to work at Starbucks forever, or put them in a huge amount of debt," Ripley recalled.
Ripley said the concern speaks to the "general cynicism" and "distrust" that people feel towards large corporations and higher education overall, particularly because many baristas, like other Americans, have had "fraught" and "complicated" college experiences.
"Colleges and corporations have done themselves no favors in how they treat their employees and how they treat their students, and so I think that's a real problem," Ripley said. "Starbucks had to do a lot of work with Arizona State to try to build trust and build credibility and convince people that, 'Hey, this is real! We are serious. We really want you to succeed.' It took more effort and time than they expected."
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about Starbucks' college tuition reimbursement initiative here.
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