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Chipotle Mexican Grill : funding employees' degrees in agriculture, culinary, hospitality

04/08/2021 | 09:41am

Chipotle Mexican Grill will offer debt-free degrees in agriculture, culinary and hospitality to all eligible employees in partnership with Guild Education, an education and upskilling company.

After only 120 days of employment, employees are eligible to pursue degrees from nonprofit, accredited universities, including The University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Paul Quinn College, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, the University of Denver and soon Johnson & Wales University as well as Oregon State University, according to a company press release.

"Diversifying our debt-free degree program with new majors and partner universities makes our educational benefits even more inclusive," Marissa Andrada, Chipotle chief officer of Diversity, Inclusion and People, said in the release. "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."

Starting April 13, eligible Chipotle employees may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences or Rangeland Sciences online from Oregon State University.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than six times as many farmers age 65 and older as farmers age 34 and younger, challenging the future of small and mid-sized farms throughout the country.

Chipotle has committed $5 million over five years to help remove barriers and enable the next generation of farmers and ranchers to succeed. Last year, the brand spent more than $300 million in food premiums to purchase supplies that are responsibly sourced, humanely raised and often locally grown.

Culinary and Hospitality
Chipotle will be the first of Guild's employer partners to offer debt-free culinary education through Johnson & Wales University. The brand will work collaboratively with JWU and Guild to bring associate and bachelors' culinary arts degrees online, as well as an additional Bachelor of Science degree in Food Industry Compliance Management. The associate degree in Culinary Arts will include an experiential education component to give students hands-on opportunities to build their culinary skills, according to the release. In addition, Chipotle employees will have the opportunity to pursue a selection of bachelor's degree programs in hospitality from Bellevue University, JWU or Oregon State University.

Supply Chain
Later this year, Chipotle will also offer an expanded selection of Supply Chain programs from Oregon State University and the University of Denver. The company offers Supply Chain degrees from Bellevue University, Brandman University and Southern New Hampshire University.

The results
In 2019, C hipotle announced it would cover 100% of tuition costs upfrontfor 75 business and technology degrees through its partnership with Guild.

The debt-free degree program is a key component of Chipotle's Cultivate Education program, which includes an Existing Tuition Reimbursement Program, allowing eligible employees to be reimbursed for tuition up to $5,250 per year in qualifying programs.

The decision is not only helping workers but is paying off for Chipolte, which has seen a retention rate of 3.5 times higher among students who are enrolled in Cultivate Education. Crew members using the benefit are 7.5 times more likely to move into a management role within the organization

"Chipotle's debt-free degree program expansion highlights its deep commitment to employees' economic opportunity and professional advancement," said Natalie McCullough, president and chief commercial officer at Guild Education. "By expanding Cultivate Education to include a variety of programs aligned to the company's mission, Chipotle is continuing to lead as an innovator in employee development and wellness."

Chipotle has over 2,750 restaurants in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

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