LOS ANGELES, CA – September 14, 2022 – Retail giant Amazon today announced that it will partner with InStride to provide sponsored education programs for the drivers of its Delivery Service Partners (DSP) through a new initiative called Next Mile. InStride, a leader in the movement to advance social and business impact through workforce education, offers employee-learners a wide variety of learning options provided by high-quality academic institutions.
The Next Mile program is a more than $19 million investment in education, skills training and career advancement by Amazon as they partner with InStride to provide DSPs and their drivers with access to more than 1,700 academic programs. Offerings include bachelor’s and associate degrees, high school diplomas, industry certifications, certificates that can stack to a degree, and English language proficiency courses. Tuition for these programs is paid upfront so that employee-learners can focus on excelling in school instead of worrying about how to pay for it. The vast majority of the 1,700 programs offered through InStride’s academic network would be completely free for the drivers within the $5,250 annual tuition coverage available. $5,250 is the tax-exempt limit set under section 127 of the United States Internal Revenue Code for education benefits.
“Our mission at InStride is to enable corporations to offer life-changing education opportunities to their employees and partners,” said Vivek Sharma, CEO of InStride. “The Next Mile program from Amazon opens up paid-up-front degrees, certificates, diplomas, and more to hundreds of thousands of hard-working delivery drivers. InStride is proud to partner with Amazon on this increased access to educational advancement and excited to witness the impact of this initiative.”
The Next Mile program enables DSPs to support and invest in their drivers who want to build new skills to help them achieve their career aspirations. The program provides access to curated career pathways to help participants identify educational programs and career options based on skills and interests. Next Mile will be available to all participating DSPs and their teams starting in January 2023, with Amazon reimbursing DSPs for tuition expenses for all eligible drivers.
"Through the DSP program, small businesses around the world have generated over $26 billion in revenue for their companies since launching four years ago," said Parisa Sadrzadeh, vice president of Amazon's Worldwide Delivery Service Partner Program. "We couldn’t have done that without DSPs and their incredible teams. We will continue to innovate with them and use our economies of scale and resources to help them provide best-in-class offerings to their employees. Investing in our DSPs means that we are continuing to invest in communities nationwide. I can't wait to see the future success stories of what these drivers achieve."
"As a small business owner, being able to offer my team these industry-leading benefits and services is amazing," said Nicole Kelso, an Amazon DSP and owner of Rainforest Routes. "Providing additional training paths and empowering my team to pursue their dreams will help them achieve success within my organization and elsewhere. Investing in their future helps my business provide an even more compelling employment experience."
InStride is reimagining workforce education by helping innovative employers provide career-boosting, debt-free credentials to their employees through partnerships with leading academic institutions. Working with InStride, organizations can offer employees high school diplomas, English-language courses, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees along with a wide range of skill offerings in high-demand fields across industries. InStride’s curated academic network includes high quality universities such as Arizona State University, City University of New York, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Universidad Tecmilenio, the University of Memphis and Central State University. To date, InStride’s network has helped more than 52,000 working adult learners access higher education, preventing $570 million in student debt.