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How Target’s Education Assistance Program Is Keeping Associates Engaged

Dream to Be benefit is helping full- and part-time workers gain more knowledge
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Target Drive Up order
All Target associates are offered tuition-free education assistance from their first day on the job.

Two years after the launch of its Dream to Be education assistance benefit, Target is giving an update on the program’s successes. The tuition-free access to formal education and skilling is available to the retailer’s full- and part-time associates from their first day on the job, and Target reports that 90% of learners are front-line team members.

U.S.-based full-time and part-time Target team members are eligible to pursue tuition-free undergraduate and associate degrees, certificates and bootcamp programs from more than 40 colleges, universities and learning providers. According to an 18-month study conducted by Guild, the company that facilitates Target’s education benefit, turnover was more than 70% lower among hourly team members enrolled in Dream to Be programs, while the number of promotions was more than three times higher for those enrolled in an education benefit program.

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Business, technology and language-learning courses are reported to be the most popular learning pathways for Target associates. Kris R., an associate at Target’s Vernon Hills, Ill., store, shared that joining a Spanish language program didn’t just help him grow his knowledge, but also helped him better connect with his Spanish-speaking co-workers.

“It was so convenient,” he said. “As an executive team lead (ETL), my schedule fluctuates a lot and learning a language on the side would be difficult if it wasn’t for how Target went about it. I’ve been beginning with greetings and being intentional and my team is really appreciative that I’m just trying.”

The retailer is currently updating the program to include four historically Black colleges and universities, and is also awarding college credit for select Target training programs while adding Spanish and French language learning programs.

“I was able to accomplish a degree program successfully and receive an excellent GPA, which has boosted my confidence while working with others and addressing challenges,” said Julius G., a senior corporate security manager who has been with Target for 28 years. “Currently, I am discussing my career progression with my leader and feel emboldened to strive for more growth and opportunities at Target.”

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. PG also included the company on its Retailers of the Century list. 

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