Happy Birthday Horizons Teacher Degree Program! Here’s How the Program’s Doing

K Prep teacher helping students to write

A little over a year ago, we made a big announcement -- that we’d be paying for early educators to earn their college degrees…for free. 

The Horizons Teacher Degree Program was born in June 2018, and it quickly became a prime example of what we believe in – that employee development is a great way to both support our people, and reach our company’s talent goals. 

So how’s it working? 

A little background first... 

The program was designed specifically around our talent challenges. So we started the same way we would for any client we serve – by understanding needs (teachers in our centers) and then matching those identified talent needs with our employees’ career goals. “Over and over again we kept hearing that our teachers were interested in furthering their own education,” our CEO Stephen Kramer told Slate at the time. “So, we started to evaluate the barriers for teachers wanting to go back to school.”

Then, we drafted our plan accordingly: 

To reach the largest audience, we opened it to all full-time employees of our child care centers.

To effectively recruit, we removed waiting periods for new hires.

To effectively retain, we ask graduates to stay with us 18 months after graduation. 

To remove financial barriers, we leveraged tuition and other discounts from a select network of schools, enabling us to offer the program to employees 100% free – tuition, fees, books and all.

To help people be successful, we provided education coaches to offer guidance on prerequisites and choosing the program that fit. 

To support our goals, we offered it only for early education degrees.

How’s it Working…Drumroll Please

Since summer 2018, nearly 1,200 people have signed up, both existing employees and new recruits; and 900 have enrolled. A year in, the graduations are just beginning, with 250 expected by the end of next year . And that’s just part of the payoff. Enthusiastic media reports – like this, and this, and this – delivered the biggest recruitment strategy of all: employees who are excited about their careers….with us.

"This is an opportunity for me to fulfill a dream,” said one employee about the program. 

So there’s the upshot. Happy employees. Happy organization. Most importantly, happy families in our centers. 

So how’s it working? 

We’d say it’s working pretty well.

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Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

July 17, 2019

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.