McDonald’s and Ivy Tech Community College have announced a partnership to increase affordable college options in Indiana with an aim to bridge the state’s gap in educational attainment.
As many as 300 McDonald’s franchises across Indiana will offer tuition assistance to employees who work a minimum of 15 hours a week and have been employed for least 90 days. Those in a managerial position can receive up to $3,000 a year in tuition assistance, while other employees will be eligible for $2,500 a year in funding to attend classes at Ivy Tech.
McDonald’s and Ivy Tech hope this will help quickly shore up the numbers of those having an associate or comparable degree.
By 2025, Indiana aims to have 60% of the workforce with a post-secondary degree or credential. And currently there is a gap of as much as 15% in achieving the goal, according to Dr. Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech’s president.
“There’s an urgency in the state to help many more Hoosiers continue their education,” said Ellspermann.
She said the program with McDonald’s reduces the debt burden on students and also offers an opportunity for both members of the partnership to recruit. The program, she said, could grow to include as many as 1,500 students, and benefits both McDonald’s and Ivy Tech.
Local Hoosier businesses are happy, too.
“Everyone has potential but not everyone has the opportunity,” said Michael Brooks, owner and operator of a McDonald’s in Lafayette, Indiana. “So this is a big opportunity to get this free money so they can go to college with little to no money out of their pocket.”
With 18 campuses, Ivy Tech is the country’s largest statewide accredited community college. It offers online courses as well as day, evening and weekend classes, making it easier for people working irregular hours to get an education.
“This model really hits a significant niche of Hoosiers who find it very difficult to go back (to college) because they are working full-time, they may have families and many draws on them,” said Ellspermann.
McDonald’s previously worked with Ivy Tech to transfer management training at its outlets into college credit. For example, a shift manager or general managers enrolled in Ivy Tech could receive college credit for training they received at a McDonald’s outlet.
“Community colleges are a great resource for restaurant employees,” said Lisa Schumacher, director of educational strategies at McDonald’s. “I think being able to go to school in your own community is powerful for many reasons from a cost perspective and from an access perspective, so I’m excited with the fact that it’s a local partnership.”
In addition to Ivy Tech, McDonald’s has other local and national partners including Excelsior College, Colorado Tech University and Southern New Hampshire University.
The latest partnership with Ivy Tech is an extension of McDonald’s current nationwide education program, Archways to Opportunity.
Since its establishment in 2015, the program has increased access to education for more than 40,000 people, awarding a little over $63 million in high school and college tuition assistance. For Indiana specifically, McDonald’s last year invested more than $1.2 million in tuition assistance for employees, according to the Archways website.
McDonald’s Archways program offers four educational pathways.
For non-native English speakers, it offers English Under the Archways, to help employees learn English either online or through face-to-face instruction. More than 6,900 employees have benefited from this pathway, McDonald’s reported.
Through Career Online High School, employees can earn a high school diploma in 12-14 months and for no charge. More than 650 employees have graduated from high school under this pathway, according to the program’s website.
Archways also offers its employees tuition assistance for courses taken at a degree or certificate granting college or university that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Managers can earn up to $5,250 in tuition assistance while other employees are eligible for $2,500 per year.
Over 27,000 restaurant employees were awarded college tuition assistance, according to McDonald’s.
Archways also counsels employees on college financial aid and admissions processes.
“We really wanted to create something that met people at their point of need, really understanding that people working at McDonald’s restaurants are at different places along their educational journey,” said Schumacher.
Ivy Tech’s Ellspermann hopes other companies follow McDonald’s education assistance efforts.
“If we can do employer funded models that adapt to that part-time model, we can encourage many more students, many more Hoosiers in our case, to go back and complete credentials that will help give them very strong careers and prosperity going forward,” she said.
Sarah Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.