The Walt Disney Company announced Wednesday the launch of a $50 million educational program that will pay 100 percent of tuition costs upfront for more than 80,000 eligible hourly workers.
The Disney Aspire program allows domestic full-time and part-time workers who are eligible can take courses toward a high school degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree or vocational training. Disney is partnering with Guild Education, an organization that helps employers provide low-cost online education to their employees from more than 80 accredited non-profit universities across the country. Guild Education includes two different business degrees from the University of Florida's online program. Disney's program will also reimburse application fees, books and required materials.
"I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "It opens doors and creates new possibilities."
Iger announced the initial $50 million investment into the program in January, along with news of a $1000 cash bonus for about 125,000 cast members, though that bonus was withheld from union workers.
Disney Aspire will receive additional annual investment of $25 million.
Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Disney, adds that cast members can choose what they study – the program or classes don't have to be tied to their current role at Disney. Workers can also leave the company after obtaining their degree without penalties.
"I am incredibly proud that Disney is embarking on this historic launch," Parker says. "I know Disney Aspire will enable employees to reach their educational goals and pursue career aspirations – including movement into new roles at Disney, as well as careers outside of the company. In terms of what employees and Cast Members will achieve with that – all I can say is the sky’s the limit!"
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