Disney Aspire, a new education program designed to make it easier for hourly cast members to pursue higher education or vocational training, opened enrollment last week. One of the most comprehensive education programs of its kind, the $50 million initiative, with up to $25 million in annual funding going forward, includes a full range of programs and certificates that do not need to be related to cast members’ current roles at Disney.
Partnering with Guild Education, Disney Aspire participants have access to a network of schools offering a broad range of courses and programs from high school diploma completion, English language learning and trade certificates to various degrees up to a Master’s degree. Disney pays for tuition up front while costs for books and materials are reimbursable.
Disney Aspire launched with online courses designed to be flexible for working adults to balance their current jobs with schooling. The program also includes individual coaching to ensure participants have the support and guidance they need through each step of the program, from enrollment all the way to graduation.
“Disney is going to help me go back to school to build a future I want so I can provide for myself and my family,” said Sarah Michener, an attractions host in Tomorrowland. “Knowing I can grow with a company that I love so much makes a huge difference.”
[Editor’s note: the Disneyland Resort also recently announced it was boosting the minimum hourly wage for non-union cast members to $15.75 beginning January 2019.]