In the current recruiting environment, I expect this type of perk is be a strong selling point to prospective employees and a powerful retention tool. I think most people who have been through similar program will attest, it's an amazing feeling when your company and manager invests in your personal success in this way. The loyalty engendered is hard to overstate.
As a startup grows and scales, it's easy to forget about deepening employee education. But the enrichment both in knowledge and network building is invaluable. Furthermore, it's a terrific investment in the business' competitive advantage, its people.