‘Peetniks’ will earn degrees while serving coffee

Jonathan Gonzalez makes a drink for a customer at Peet’s Coffee and Tea on OSU’s campus. Peet’s Coffee and Tea refers to employees as ‘Peetniks.’

Jessica Boyd Practicum Contributor

OSU announces exclusive scholarship collaboration with Peet’s Coffee and Tea

The smell of fresh-brewed coffee fills the air as the door opens, and friendly workers are hard at work behind the bar. The cozy shop is filled with customers, adding to the welcoming atmosphere. An Oregon State University poster hangs on the wall at the local Peet’s Coffee and Tea bar promoting the “Peetnik Pathway to College Program.” 

On May 9, Oregon State University announced a new, exclusive collaboration with Peet’s Coffee. The “Peetnik Pathway to College Program” gives Peet’s employees the opportunity to gain a college education. 

According to the Peet’s Coffee and Tea website, the company was founded in 1966 and has spread across the nation. Peet’s Coffee now has roughly 5,000 employees and about 270 coffee bars around the country, according to Jessica DuPont, OSU Ecampus director of marketing. 

According to Lisa Templeton, OSU Ecampus associate provost, Peet’s recognized a need for higher education for their employees after they noticed some of their workers, or “Peetniks” as the company refers to them, would leave the company to pursue an education. Their goal is to better their employees with this opportunity. 

“They were very interested in our retail management track, which we’re developing with the College of Business. People who start off in Peet’s retail shops could earn this degree and potentially get promoted and stay at the company. It was a real win-win,” Templeton said. “They felt like they could educate their workforce which was important to them, and create ways to retain and advance employees and that really matches what we do.”

Over the last year, OSU and Peet’s Coffee have worked together to create this program, according to DuPont. OSU is the exclusive provider for this program.

“They were looking for a quality provider in online education for their employees,” DuPont said. “That was really exciting because they basically picked us and had done their research and looked at other universities and other models and were really impressed with the quality and the rigor of the instruction and our institution as well.”

The Peetnik Pathway to College Program is a tuition reimbursement plan. “Peetniks”can get reimbursed a significant amount of money for taking online courses through OSU, according to Jane Marvin, senior vice president of people and culture at Peet’s Coffee.

“Peet’s will reimburse each eligible

employee up to $5,250 in tuition and fees annually,” Marvin said in an email. “This means that our Peet’s employees can pay as little as $15 per credit. That’s pretty incredible when you think about what a degree costs today in other places.”

For a Peetnik to qualify for this program, they need is to be pursuing a first-time bachelor’s degree and be working for Peet’s Coffee, according to Marvin.

“We are very excited to be launching this program that has the potential to change lives and provide career advancement possibilities for our 5,000 Peetniks across the country,” Marvin said in an email.  “All benefits-eligible Peet’s Coffee employees (21+ hours per week) who meet the program’s registration requirements and who do not already have an undergraduate degree are eligible for the program.”

According to Templeton, Peetniks also need to meet OSU requirements to be a part of the program. 

“They have to meet the exact same criteria that any OSU student would have to,” Templeton said. “So they go through the exact same application, admissions and financial aid process. They are treated just like any other prospective OSU student.”

  Peetniks can study a range of degrees through OSU online. OSU offers a variety of classes within 20 different degree programs, according to Templeton. 

“We want to grow enrollment in our online degree programs as a university, so this is a strategy to help us grow,” Templeton said. “(Peet’s is) interested in offering their employees access to a variety of different degree programs, but the business administration, is very exciting for Peet’s because, again, one of their hopes is that their employees then would be able to advance and grow within their business.”

In a short amount of time since the launch, many Peetniks have shown interest in the program. According to DuPont, OSU Ecampus has received over 100 inquiries from Peetniks across the nation. 

According to Marvin, Peet’s Coffee has high expectations for the future of the program.

“We hope to produce hundreds in the first few years of the program with a myriad of college graduates from coast to coast who otherwise may not have the opportunity to pursue a college degree,” Marvin said in an email. 

According to DuPont, OSU has been able to use this as a marketing tool to further the public’s interest in the university. 

“I think one of the exciting parts for us is that with those 270 locations around the country. They have agreed to put different postcards, posters in the store about this opportunity, so it’s a great way to further the brand and the awareness of this institution in all of those different locations,” DuPont said. “In California, especially, they have a large concentration, in Chicago, Boston and D.C. as well. So we’re excited about just being able to leverage the Oregon State name and access to an OSU education through this collaboration with Peet’s. I think that’s a really exciting portion of it.”

OSU, as a community, is excited about this collaboration as well, according to Templeton.

“Our mission is to provide educational access to learners worldwide,” Templeton said. “We serve many campus-based students, but we really do focus on reaching out to adult learners, place-bound adults, working adults, parents, people who can’t get to Corvallis for an 8 a.m. class on a Tuesday. So this collaboration is helping us with our mission to provide access to a high-quality education.”

For more information and inquiries visit Peetnik Pathway to College Program on the OSU website.