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Change Agent

Starbucks' new blend – working with community nonprofits

The coffee chain will join with two 'change-making' groups in New York and Los Angeles doing 'heroic work' to address economic, social, and education challenges.

By Staff Writer / October 4, 2011

Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks speaks at a book discussion on "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul" at a Borders bookstore in Chicago. This week Starbucks announced two new initiatives to help jump start the economy in depressed communities.

AB5 WENN Photos/Newscom/File

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Howard Schultz is planning a new blend for Starbucks – this time not a new flavor of coffee but a new joint effort with nonprofit groups in New York and Los Angeles.

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Starbucks stores in Harlem, N.Y., and Crenshaw, a Los Angeles neighborhood, will donate at least $100,000 in the first year to the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem and the Los Angeles Urban League in the Crenshaw neighborhood.

“Starbucks is partnering with two organizations doing heroic work to address the economic, social, and education challenges in their communities,” said Mr. Schultz, president, chairman, and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company. “These two partnerships are intended to help us learn how our company can successfully join with change-making community organizations in a localized, coordinated, and replicable way.”

A day earlier Starbucks, the world's biggest coffee chain, announced it would ask each of its 60 million US customers to donate $5 or more to “Create Jobs for USA,” an effort to create and sustain jobs in hard-hit communities. Each $5 donated is expected to generate $35 worth of financing for local businesses through the Opportunity Finance Network.

"We are going to have to understand that for there to be shared prosperity, there has to be shared success and shared sacrifice," Shultz told Reuters news service.

Customers who donate $5 or more will receive red, white, and blue wristbands with the word “indivisible” on them.

“We need an analogue to the Marshall Plan [for reconstructing Europe after World War II], but the Marshall Plan was based on leadership, and we have none of it,” said Shultz, who grew up in federally subsidized housing in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"It's not going to be a million dollars a year," said Blair Hamilton Taylor, who heads the Los Angeles Urban League. referring to the Crenshaw initiative. "But if McDonald's decides to do this next week, and then Wendy's decides to do it, and Burger King decides – now all of the sudden you do have a million dollars," he said. "My hope is that is what this triggers."

This summer Schultz challenged business leaders to step up their hiring and to refuse to make political contributions until the president and Congress agreed on how to solve US debt, revenue, and spending problems.

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