The KFC Foundation has announced that it will partner with Western Governors University (WGU), one of the nation’s leading online universities, to offer KFC restaurant employees completely paid tuition for attending WGU to earn their college degrees.
With the new partnership, KFC restaurant employees will be able to choose among more than 60 different bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certification programs offered by WGU across the fields of business, information technology, education and healthcare.
The new program is non-competitive so every eligible employee who applies and enrolls will be able to receive tuition coverage. KFC restaurant employees will have access to the new education program from their first day on the job. Because WGU, which specializes in competency-based education, offers rolling start dates every month, restaurant workers will be able to enroll in WGU’s online courses as soon as they’re ready.
“Every year we look for new ways to support and enhance the lives of KFC restaurant employees,” said Emma Horn, Executive Director of the KFC Foundation. “What better opportunity to be able to offer team members than a flexible college degree program from Western Governors University that can fit seamlessly into their schedule. The program at WGU is perfect for someone who may not have enough hours in the day to balance a traditional college experience on top of a full- or part-time job and other life priorities.”
To be eligible for the KFC Foundation’s programs, employees must be in good standing at a KFC restaurant participating in the KFC Foundation’s Annual Franchise Donation Program. And they must maintain their employment to remain eligible for the programs.
KFC Foundation’s various charitable programs are funded by several initiatives such as its at-register Round-Up donations and the Annual Franchise Donation Program, in which a portion of every case of KFC “Secret Recipe Fries” sold at participating restaurants goes to the KFC Foundation .
“Talent exists within every individual but the keys to unlock it can vary for each person,” said Scott Pulsipher, President of Western Governors University. “Tens of thousands of KFC restaurant employees across the country can now further advance their lives, and that of their families and communities, by accessing and completing education programs that are relevant and personalized. I’m thankful that the KFC Foundation has entrusted WGU as its education partner to expand pathways to opportunity for KFC employees.”
Although different in its funding mechanism and education provider approach than many other corporation-provided college benefit programs, the KFC Foundation-WGU partnership joins an ever-growing list of major companies extending generous educational opportunities to hourly workers and salaried employees. Such programs are also seeing an increase in the percentage of employees who participate.
The expansion of “free college” benefits for employees comes at the same time that several major employers are dropping the requirement of a college degree for certain entry-level positions. It’s an interesting strategy to deal with labor market pressures – lower the educational requirements for jobs but then use educational benefits as an incentive to retain workers.
The new WGU tuition program comes in addition to the KFC Foundation’s provision of scholarships worth as much as $20,000 for eligible restaurant employees to attend the two- or four-year college, trade school or graduate school of their choice.
More information about the program can be found at Kfcfoundation.org/wgu.