A Starbucks Barista’s Message to the Company about Tuition Assistance


The following is a post by Joseph Michel, a Starbucks partner, father and aspiring cybersecurity technician from Lehigh Acres, Florida. Joseph started this campaign on Coworker.org asking Starbucks to expand its tuition assistance options for baristas.

Recently, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which will significantly lower the corporate tax rate and leave companies, like Starbucks, with a lot more money on their hands. As a three-year Starbucks barista, dad, and aspiring cybersecurity technician, I believe that these extra resources should go toward enhancing the company’s education initiatives for all of its baristas. That’s why I started a campaign on Coworker.org calling on the company to expand tuition assistance options for Starbucks partners.


Currently, the Starbucks College Achievement Program only gives partners tuition assistance if their first bachelor’s degree comes from Arizona State University online (ASU). While ASU has many great programs, their online course selection is rather limited. They don’t offer degrees in many baristas’ chosen fields (such as Animation, Physics, or HVAC Technician) or some of the certifications we need to find employment after completing our education (such as A+, Net+, and Security+ certification for Cybersecurity and Network engineering).

By offering more tuition assistance options outside of ASU, I believe Starbucks can unlock the potential of every employee in every geographic location. Starbucks’ progressive company culture encourages employees to achieve their future goals. With an expanded tuition assistance program, I would be able to get the certifications I need to fulfill my dream of becoming a cybersecurity technician.

In addition, more tuition assistance options would make it easier for baristas to find the program that is the best fit for their schedules and learning styles. We would have the flexibility to choose the program we want and the classes that are compatible with our working hours.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a recent event (as reported by CNN) that the savings created by a lower corporate tax rate should go towards “the many initiatives we have about veterans and obviously our people for benefits”. There has been a history of company executives and shareholders ‘pocketing’ corporate tax cuts, so I’m happy to hear that Schultz agrees that the tax savings should be invested into the company’s hard-working baristas.

Baristas all across the country agree and have joined my campaign calling on Starbucks to help partners get the education they need to strive for their future goals. I hope that Starbucks will listen.

Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join, and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign about changes you want to see in your workplace on Coworker.org here — or contact us at [email protected] if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.