Employment and Jobs

JetBlue Celebrates First Graduates of Its Employer-Sponsored College Degree Program

September 16, 2016  • UpSkill America

UpSkill America is an employer-led movement to expand opportunity for America’s workers and allow our economy and communities to thrive. As part of our mission to advance the upskilling movement, we are pleased to share the following news featuring one of our partners.

JetBlue's Chief Executive Officer and President, Robin Hayes congratulates the first graduates of JetBlue's employer-sponsored college degree program - JetBlue Scholars. (Photo: Business Wire)JetBlue recently celebrated the first graduates of its JetBlue Scholars program. JetBlue Scholars offers the airline’s crewmembers the opportunity to earn a fully-accredited associate or bachelor’s degree with JetBlue covering most of the cost. The program features high-quality online courses at a fraction of the cost of traditional college. This year, 50 crewmembers will earn a college degree through the newly-launched program.

“JetBlue Scholars is proof that unbundling the higher education process works. In our first year, 50 students will complete their college degrees,” said Bonny Simi, founder of JetBlue Scholars and president of JetBlue Technology Ventures. “Many started college years ago but couldn’t afford to finish. There are pilots, reservation agents, flight attendants, mechanics and administrative staff participating in the program. The average Scholar is 42 and has been out of the classroom for over 20 years. They have tremendous work experience, but no degree.”

JetBlue Scholars utilizes low cost, high quality alternative college credit options including new technology-based learning platforms like Study.com, Sophia.org and StraighterLine.com. These courses are accepted for college credit at partner school Thomas Edison State University, and are a fraction of the cost of traditional college classes. JetBlue covers the full cost of the degree up to the final semester, and even that cost may be covered by JetBlue scholarships or Pell grants, which mean a degree may be completely free for those in financial need.

This program gives crewmembers the flexibility to learn at their own pace. The program offers step-by-step support to make it easier for crewmembers that have some previous college credit but do not know how to move forward to complete their degree. JetBlue’s goal is to make higher education more inclusive and affordable so that any crewmember who wants a college degree is able to earn one.

The growing need for employees with more advanced skills, demands that corporations find a way to upskill the American workforce. Typical grant and employer tuition reimbursement programs do not always cover alternative credit options, and require students to pay upfront and get reimbursed later, which many cannot afford to do. Therefore, corporate-driven education initiatives must take into consideration the unique needs of today’s non-traditional students. JetBlue Scholars has proven to be a valuable retention and development tool, leading to increased crewmember engagement and loyalty, resulting in a greater return on investment for JetBlue. Click here to read more.

We are delighted with this announcement and commend JetBlue for joining a growing list of companies committed to advancing the upskilling movement.


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