NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wal-Mart employees will soon be able to earn college credit for their on-the-job training and experience, the world's largest retailer announced Thursday.
In a letter to U.S. associates, Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said the company is partnering with online educator American Public University (APU) to offer the college credits and tuition assistance to help employees get a higher education.
As part of the program, employees who enroll in classes from APU will receive a grant equivalent to 15% of their tuition costs. Wal-Mart is also investing up to $50 million over the next three years in the program.
"I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and explore all the program has to offer," Castro-Wright told employees in the letter. "I believe our partnership with APU will not only help you build an even better life for yourself and your family, but will help put you ahead in your Wal-Mart career."
Wal-Mart said it chose to partner with APU based on its affordability and online programs. A company survey showed 72% of Wal-Mart's 32,000 associates preferred an online college rather than a "brick-and-mortar" school, the company said.
The announcement comes a day before Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting in Fayetteville, Ark. As part of its annual "shareholders week," the company hosted three days of festivities, including concerts by Tim McGraw, REO Speedwagon and The Barenaked Ladies.
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