Stock options, 401(k) with employer-matching contributions and free gym memberships are the most popular perks that employees receive from their employers. But some progressive companies like Google, Apple and Starbucks, who are all known to take great care of their employees, take benefits a step further by offering tuition reimbursement for employees who take classes.
Now one company is upping the ante by offering free college tuition for employees’ children.
Chieh Huang, the CEO of Boxed, a New York-based mobile delivery service for bulk items, is offering a unique benefit for his employees: 100% free college tuition for their children with absolutely no strings attached. It’s an attempt by Huang to show how much he values not only his employees, but also their families. The company’s commitment was made so that employees’ families could begin to have a lifetime of economic mobility. As Huang told Forbes, who broke the story:
“If you are the child of someone who works at Boxed, it’s not the lack of money that is going to prevent you from going to college. We’re building a long term business and if you are along for the ride, we are going to invest in you.”
Huang, 33, plans on committing to covering college tuition for all four years but will not be paying for other costs such as housing and books.
The CEO emphasizes that the inspiration behind his idea was because of his own chance to attend college. He told Yahoo:
“If I didn’t go to college or if I didn’t have the education that I did, it would be very difficult for me to do what I do now. I also realize that a lot of folks can’t afford college and if they don’t go to college this generation, then future generations might not be able to go as well. How do we break that cycle? And that is what I really want to do here,”
Huang knows something about hard-earned education. Huang’s parents, Taiwanese immigrants, emigrated to the U.S. to find a better life, but because they spoke little English, his mother could only land a job as a cashier at a Chinese restaurant, and his father, who found it difficult to land a job, was unemployed for many periods of time.
Yet despite having no money, Huang ended up attending Johns Hopkins University, using resources such as loans, federal financial aid and scholarships to cover his tuition. He then went on to Fordham Law School, but despite his successes, he never forgot his background. Huang said:
“The overall theme [of paying for tuition] is upward mobility. I came from extremely humble beginnings. I really want these folks to know no matter what you do for us — it could be literally down to cleaning the kitchen and cleaning the bathroom all the way to if you are a VP level person — I really want people to experience that upward mobility that my family had.”
After law school, Huang found success with two startups. He sold his first company, a gaming studio, in 2011 to Zynga.
Huang’s Boxed is his other. The company has raised more than $30 million in funding for its big-box store items at your doorstep delivery model.
Huang is still ironing out the kinks so that employees won’t abuse the tuition funds. He also acknowledges that some children might not go to college because they don’t attend schools that look to breed college-bound students.
But with such a plan in place, the company’s part-time and blue collar workers will at least experience a more level playing field than before.
Boxed has a great idea. Let’s hope that other companies follow suit.