Starbucks-ASU partnership draws more than 1,000 students

October 7, 2014

A quick learner and natural leader, Lauren Esveld didn’t need a college education to get ahead.

She landed her first retail job at the age of 16 and began managing a store two years later. After a dozen years of increasing responsibility with a clothing retailer, she joined Starbucks four years ago as a district manager overseeing 13 stores in the Washington, D.C., area. Download Full Image

Though she’s done well without a degree, Esveld is going back to school.

“You can have a good career, like I did, without going to college. But I’ve always believed a college education is extremely important,” she said. “Now I’m the mother of two boys and I want to set a good example for them.”

Esveld will soon be sitting around the family’s dining room table doing homework with her seven- and nine-year-old sons. She’s among the 1,000 Starbucks partners (employees) who will begin classes through Arizona State University. They’re the first group of partners to take advantage of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

“Our first cohort of partners are taking advantage of nearly all the 40 undergraduate degree programs available, with business and psychology as the most pursued,” said Cliff Burrows, group president, U.S., Americas, and Teavana. “I am looking forward to following this new and exciting journey our partners are about to embark on, and supporting and celebrating with them as they achieve their personal dreams.”

Starbucks announced a unique collaboration with ASU’s online degree program this summer. Partners based in the U.S. who work an average of at least 20 hours per week are eligible for the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Starbucks chose ASU as its educational partner for two primary reasons: First, the university is committed to access for all academically qualified students, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. Second, ASU has one of the best online education programs in the world, taught by the same faculty who teach on its campuses, and it has the experience and scale to support students with a variety of interests through a broad selection of degree programs.

Partners admitted to ASU as a junior or senior will earn full tuition reimbursement to complete their bachelor’s degree. Freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship and need-based financial aid toward two years of full-time study. Nearly 70 percent of partners enrolled through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan are continuing their education at the junior or senior level. In addition to financial support, Starbucks partners will have a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic adviser.

“ASU is thrilled to welcome more than 1,000 Starbucks partners to the Sun Devil family. They come from nearly every state and their presence will greatly enrich our student body,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The new university model that we are pioneering at ASU is focused on inclusivity and degree completion, and we are proud that this public-private partnership will enable Starbucks partners to achieve the dream of a college degree and the lifetime of advantages that an ASU education provides.”

Starbucks partners from nearly every state will begin classes when ASU’s Fall Session B begins on Oct. 15. Those pursuing a bachelor’s degree include district managers, like Esveld, store managers and baristas.

Shawn Walker, a Starbucks barista in New York City, always intended on completing his college education in graphic information technology. He stopped one year short of the finish line. Loans added up and weighed him down.

“Not having a degree and having loan debt made me feel hopeless at times,” he said. “Now I have a different range of emotions. Now, I see that it’s possible for me to move my life forward. I am confident I will be successful doing something I love and this opportunity is a new beginning for me.”

Adding online education to work and family commitments will take careful planning, according to Mary Hamm, a 12-year Starbucks partner in Virginia who trains store managers and assistant managers.

When Hamm first heard about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, she thought it was an “exciting” benefit for other partners. But she couldn’t stop thinking about the prospect of completing a bachelor’s degree – something she wanted to do “someday” after her teenagers were finished with college.

Someday starts in a couple of weeks for Hamm. She begins her junior year through ASU while her oldest daughter is a freshman, studying biology, at a university in Virginia.

“I would never be able to do this without Starbucks. This is a blessing,” said Hamm. “With one child in college and another getting ready for college, it would have been too expensive for me to take on another loan. This is absolutely huge. Starbucks and ASU are giving me so much.”

Hamm intends to give back. She’ll study project management to support her own development and the non-profit organization she started three years ago called Project Dominic. The group provides basic, daily necessities to homeless people in her local community.

“I’m finally able to do something I’ve wanted to do for so many years. Being able to finish my degree is one more reason why I love this company so much,” she said.

Partners from Starbucks and its family of companies – Teavana, Evolution Fresh, La Boulange and Seattle’s Best Coffee – are enrolled in nearly all of ASU’s undergraduate degree programs. The most popular fields of study for partners this semester are business, organizational leadership, psychology and education.

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Global water expert to discuss resource management at ASU lecture

October 7, 2014

Sandra Postel, a leading authority on water issues affecting the world today and founder of the Global Water Policy Project, will give the 2014 Flinn Foundation Centennial Lecture presented by Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University.

The lecture, titled “Our Global Freshwater Future: New Solutions for a Thirsty World,” will focus on the challenges associated with managing precious freshwater resources in the face of exploding human population. The talk is set for 7 p.m., Nov. 18, at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. For tickets and reservations go to portrait of Sandra Postel Download Full Image

“As population and consumer demands rise against a finite water supply, rivers are running dry, lakes are shrinking and groundwater is being depleted. Many say water will be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th – a source of conflict and civil unrest,” she said.

“Meanwhile, climate disruption is altering the global water cycle, adding new challenges to vexing water problems. So the question arises: can we feed, clothe and provide energy and water for nine billion people, while at the same time sustaining the ecosystems that support our economies and the web of life on the planet? The answer is yes, but it will require new approaches to how we use, manage, value and even think about freshwater,” added Postel, who will address these approaches to freshwater management and conservation in the Centennial Lecture.

Postel directs the independent Global Water Policy Project and lectures, writes and consults on global water issues. In 2010 she was appointed Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she serves as the society’s lead water expert. Sandra is co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater conservation and restoration campaign being pioneered by National Geographic and its partners, and piloted in the Colorado River Basin.

Sandra is the author of several acclaimed books, including the award-winning "Last Oasis," which appears in eight languages and was the basis for a PBS documentary.

She has authored more than 100 articles for popular and scholarly publications, from Science and Natural History to Foreign Policy and Ecological Applications. Sandra, who is the recipient of several honorary degrees, has been named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment and one of the “Scientific American 50” for her contributions to water policy.

She has served as visiting senior lecturer at Mount Holyoke College and as director of the college’s Center for the Environment. She has appeared in dozens of television and radio shows nationally and internationally, as well as in some half dozen films, including the BBC’s "Planet Earth" and Leonardo DiCaprio’s "The 11th Hour."

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College