Men arrested at Philly Starbucks offered free tuition at ASU

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(Source: CBS) (Source: CBS)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The two black men who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks and agreed to settle with the city for $1 each have also been offered free tuition at Arizona State University.

The tuition offer is part of the settlement between Starbucks and Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson and will allow them to complete their undergraduate degrees if they choose.

The opportunity is possible thanks to a unique partnership between Starbucks and ASU. Announced in 2014, it’s called the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and is available to company employees.

[READ MORE: ASU partners with Starbucks to offer employees college tuition (June 16, 2014)]

“ASU is pioneering a new university model focused on inclusivity and degree completion, and Starbucks is establishing a new precedent for the responsibility and role of a public company that leads through the lens of humanity and supports its partners’ life goals with access to education,” ASU president Dr. Michael M. Crow said when the program, the first of its kind, was created.

Robinson and Nelson made headlines when they were arrested for sitting at Starbucks without ordering anything. An employee accused them of trespassing. They said they were waiting for somebody who was meeting them at the coffee shop.

The term used to describe encounters like the one at the Starbucks is "retail racism," also known as "shopping while black." It happens when minority customers are treated differently than white customers through a variety of indignities and slights, such as being refused service, falsely accused of shoplifting or reported to security or police over something mundane.

In the aftermath of the incident, Starbucks announced that it would close all of its 8,000 locations for several hours to “conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores,” according to a company news release. “[The] training program [is] designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”

That mass closure will happen the afternoon of May 29.

[READ MORE: Starbucks closing stores for racial-bias training after two African-American men arrested]

Robinson and Nelson also will be able to share their experiences with" former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as part of the company’s long-term diversity and equity efforts," a Starbucks statement explained.

The men have said they want something positive to come from what happened to them.  

“We appreciate the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with Kevin Johnson and the group around the table to address hard issues," according to a Starbucks news release. "We all recognize the importance of communication about differences and solutions, and that we will be measured by our action not words.”

In addition to the symbolic $1 Robinson and Nelson received from the city in a separate settlement, officials agreed to set a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

[WATCH: Find out why men arrested at Philly Starbucks settled with city for $1 each]

[RELATED: 2 African-American men arrested at Starbucks settle for $200K program]

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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