The next time you head to your local Starbucks to get your java fix, your purchase may be boosting education and job training programs in low-income communities. The coffee giant plans to give a minimum of $100,000 in profits from two stores—one in Harlem and the other in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles—to local community development agencies that run education programs.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told The Wall Street Journal that he gave the green light to the partnership because he believes "business leaders have to step up and do our part." Funds from the Harlem store on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue will support the nonprofit Abyssinian Development Corporation in continuing its nationally recognized programs in several neighborhood public schools.
In Los Angeles, the local Urban League chapter plans to use the funds from the five-year-old Starbucks on the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Coliseum Place to support programs at Crenshaw High School. Urban League programs have already been successful at the school, helping to increase its overall graduation rate by 51 percent.
The initiative will also boost youth employment through a formal barista training program for high school students. With the youth unemployment rate hovering around 18 percent nationally—a number that's significantly higher in low-income communities like Harlem and Crenshaw—the job-training opportunities the stores will provide will have the chance to put students on a different life path.
Although Starbucks stores are still rare in low-income communities, Schultz has said the company is looking to expand the profit-sharing to other areas where budget cuts to social services have hurt black and Latino communities and too many students drop out of school.
At a time when many nonprofits are struggling to keep their education programs running, it's refreshing to see a business like Starbucks putting at least some of its massive profits back into the community and working with local activists.