Chipotle Moves to Expand Tuition Reimbursement Program

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced a new partnership with Guild Education in an effort to offer employees of the company the opportunity to earn college credits and obtain undergraduate and graduate-level degrees.

The company already offers its more than 60,000 employees a tuition reimbursement program that gives up to $5,250 per year, which was expanded last year in order to include hourly employees. When combined with an additional $5,815 in federal grants for those who qualify, the new partnership will allow employees to earn a college-level degree for as little as $250 per year.

"One thing that we're really big on with Chipotle is our people culture and we believe in investing in our employees," Gretchen Selfridge, Chipotle's Restaurant Support Officer, said.

Selfridge said that to date, only 2% of employees take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program, with the company contributing a total of $5 million in tuition reimbursement to around 1,600 employees, almost half of whom are hourly employees who work in crew and cashier positions, writes Serena Elavia for FOX Business. She added that most employees are working toward earning an undergraduate degree and the majority of them are first generation college students.

She hopes that the new partnership will boost participation to as much as 10%.

The partnership will allow full and part-time employees to pursue an undergraduate or graduate-level degree, take college-level courses, earn a GED, or study English as a second language.

"Attracting and retaining teams of top performers is one of the key drivers of our business, and we are always looking for ways to enhance the benefits we offer to help us do that," said Monty Moran, co-CEO at Chipotle. "We've seen a lot of success and participation with our existing tuition reimbursement program, and through this new partnership with Guild Education, we can offer our employees even more assistance and opportunities to pursue their education."

Employees can now take advantage of the many online classes offered through Guild Education. The company has a number of programs and more than 30 degrees from top-ranking universities including Colorado State University's Global Campus, Bellevue University and Western Governors University. The partnership allows employees to take these courses while continuing to work for Chipotle.

The program will also allow participants to earn credit for previous college coursework, as well as up to 44 credit hours for on-the-job training in crew, kitchen manager, service manager, and apprentice manager positions. The online classes will let students to work at their own pace with the help of a Guild Education personal college and career adviser.

The company has in the past offered a free burrito, bowl, salad, or tacos to anyone working at a school last May as part of Teacher Appreciation Day. The offer came as a buy-one-get-one incentive focused on teachers, faculty, and staff members from preschool all the way through university level as long as they were able to show valid school identification, as well as homeschooling parents with a valid ID.

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