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Chipotle Increases Its Employee Debt-free College Program

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Chipotle recently announced it would offer eligible employees the opportunity to pursue debt-free degrees in Agriculture, Culinary Arts and Hospitality through universities including Oregon State and Johnson & Wales.

Through a partnership with Guild Education, Chipotle will cover 100 percent of tuition costs for select degrees from a range of non-profit, accredited universities. Employees need only work for 120 days to become eligible. The recent announcement expands upon Chipotle’s existing debt-free program, introduced in 2019, giving workers the opportunity to obtain degrees through a variety of business and technology programs.

Photo Courtesy Chipotle 

“Diversifying our debt-free degree program with new majors and partner universities makes our educational benefits even more inclusive,” said Marissa Andrada, Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer at Chipotle. “Through our partnership with Guild, we are committed to accelerating our employees’ professional growth and helping them achieve personal success by offering opportunities to pursue career paths in their particular area of interest.”

Among the latest degrees offered in Chipotle’s debt-free program is a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences or Rangeland Sciences from Oregon State University, an Associates or Bachelors degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, as well as Bachelors degree in Hospitality through Bellevue University. Other participating universities include The University of Arizona, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, the University of Denver and Oregon State University.

Commitment to Farming

Giving employees the opportunity to pursue higher education in Agriculture dovetails with Chipotle’s goal of serving responsibly sourced protein and locally grown produce and ingredients. The brand has been an advocate for farmers and works to raise awareness of issues facing the U.S. food industry.

The 2017 Census of Agriculture revealed the number of farms decreased by more than 67,000 since 2012, while acres of farmland have dropped off by more than 14 million in the same amount of time. Current farmers and food producers are aging while the next generation struggles to catch up — the agricultural industry has lost forty times more farmers than it has gained over the last decade.

Photo Courtesy Michael Bourgault

To combat these trends, Chipotle reportedly committed $5 million over the next five years “to help remove barriers and enable the next generation of farmers and ranchers to succeed.” And earlier this year, on Super Bowl Sunday, the company donated $1 for every delivery order to the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Commitment to Education

Chipotle has demonstrated its commitment to employee education through a range of initiatives under the Cultivate Education program. In addition to pursuing debt-free college degrees, employees can also take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program, which covers up to $5,250 in tuition costs each year for those enrolled in eligible programs.

By teaming up with Guild Education, Chipotle is able to offer employees a range of bachelors degrees, professional certificates and even college prep courses. Guild Education’s platform offers support from education coaches, and most of the participating universities offer convenient online classes.

Chipotle has seen a higher retention rate among students enrolled in Cultivate Education, and program participants are 7.5 times more likely to move into a management role with the company. The brand demonstrates that investing in employee education not only benefits the individual quality of life but can help companies retain top talent and boost their bottom line.

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