McDonald’s pledges $150 million to its education assistance program

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. - Audra Selmon deserves a break today, but chances are this shift manager at the Westport McDonald's is using her break to study.

“One day she saw me lugging my backpack and said, ‘What are you doing,’” said Selmon. “So I pulled her to the side and told her, ‘Well, I’m going to school to obtain my GED and she said, ‘Oh no, Archways to Opportunity will help!’”

Selmon had left high school as a teenager when she became pregnant. She eventually landed a job at McDonald's where she met Susie O’Shaughnessy, who told her about the Archways to Opportunity education program.

McDonald's plans to allocate some $150 million over the next five years for employees like Selmon who want to further their education.

“We sat down and talked about it and she enrolled in it and earned her high school diploma and from there which she’s got right here and I’m very proud of her and that accomplishment,” said O’Shaughnessy, her supervisor at McDonald's.

Selmon, a mother of two, made a promise to herself to earn her high school diploma and in April 2016 she did just that. And she’s still going, earning $1,050 in tuition assistance from her job and enrolling at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park in education.

“We have the flexibility; a lot of the stores are 24 hours,” O’Shaughnessy said. “They can pick the shifts, they can pick the hours. Crew people, the younger kids that come in, they only have to work 15 hours a week for that money, so that’s a weekend.”

With 1.9 million employees worldwide, McDonald's is the fourth largest employer on the planet.

Archways to Opportunity is trying to let everyone know that you only have to work at the fast food restaurant for 90 days to qualify for the tuition assistance program. So earning and learning and becoming better individuals.

“Having that relationship with your boss, that means a lot because she saw potential in me, wanting me to grow and shine,” Selmon said. “I’m very grateful for her.”

That’s the thing about opportunities, you just have to get a good break every once and awhile.