Archways to Opportunity Changes the Lives of DMV Residents

McDonald’s has long been guided by the value, “We are committed to our people.” Their education and overall success is a great part of that commitment.

In 2015, McDonald’s launched Archways to Opportunity (ATO), an educational assistance program that helps employees learn so that they can reach their goals no matter where they are on their educational journey. Our employees come from diverse backgrounds and want a brighter future. McDonald’s is committed to helping them achieve their biggest dreams by providing them with significant educational assistance and guidance. DMV McDonald’s employees alone have been awarded $225,000 in tuition assistance since 2016.

One of those employees is March Larkin. March serves as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of the Welburn Management Organization, which owns 41 McDonald’s restaurants in the DMV area. As Executive Assistant, March has many responsibilities, but she is the driving force for Archways to Opportunity. In 2017 alone, she has surpassed her goal and tripled the number of employees enrolled in ATO. The year isn’t over yet.

“Archways to Opportunity gives people hope,” Larkin said. “A lot of these people are in their 20s and want to further themselves. Some of them don’t have a college degree, but they’re good at what they do. I push them. I am a living testament to Archways to Opportunity. When they see I’m experiencing it firsthand, they want it too.”

March is working towards her Master’s degree in Business Administration focusing on Entrepreneurship through the ATO program. She credits ATO for opening doors she never thought possible.

As March explained, ATO comprises three core programs: High School Diploma completion, English Under the Arches, and College Tuition Assistance. To help make the best academic choices, employees also have the opportunity to receive career and academic advising. McDonald’s recognizes that there is no one single educational path. The ATO programs were created with the understanding that each person starts at a different point and learns at their own pace. Here’s a little more about each program:

High School Diploma: McDonald’s offers the nationally-accredited Career Online High School program. The online schooling gives employees the opportunity to work at their own pace and on their own time. One of the best parts: the cost of tuition is completely covered.

English Under the Arches: Launched in 2007, this program offers English as a Second Language classes that teach employees the English needed to confidently communicate with others around them.

College Tuition Assistance: Tuition assistance is offered to those earning a degree from a higher education institution. McDonald’s offers employees tuition reimbursement up front by giving the money directly to the school. This way employees don’t have to worry about a delayed reimbursement check, but rather what matters – earning their degree.

Academic Advising: McDonald’s has partnered with the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning to offer free advising to employees, guiding them for future educational or career opportunities.

In just two years ATO experienced a welcome surge in locally and nationally. The DMV area has close to 150 employees enrolled in 2017 so far. Every month, more employees in the DMV join ATO, especially during this back to school season. McDonald’s has seen incredible stories of determination and perseverance from our employees, just like March.


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