What is the role and responsibility of a for-profit, public company? That’s a question Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz posed during the company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders in 2014. In the time since, the company has taken an active an innovative approach to begin answering the question.
1. Calling for Civility and Values-Based Leadership
During Starbucks 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Schultz expanded on the question he asked shareholders to consider by asking individuals to consider, “What is the role and responsibility of all of us as citizens?” Schultz noted that every day individuals make choices and he urged them to choose optimism over cynicism, compassion over indifference, and responsibility over blame. The comments he made in March are as relevant and compelling today. Watch his speech here.
2. Celebrating Upstanders
In contrast to the divisiveness and cynicism that fueled the national dialogue in 2016, Starbucks debuted "Upstanders," its first original content series, which aims to inspire Americans to engage in acts of compassion, citizenship and civility. "Upstanders" features 10 stories, each told in written, video and podcast form, about ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. The series was written and produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks executive producer and a former senior editor of The Washington Post. In the months since the September debut, Upstanders continue to feel the positive impact from having their story told by one of the most respected brands in the world.
3. Opening the Door to Opportunity
The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, the country’s largest employer-led coalition committed to creating pathways to meaningful employment for young people, met its goal of hiring 100,000 Opportunity Youth two years ahead of schedule. Opportunity youth are population of 5.5 million 16- to 24-year-olds who are out of work and not in school. The coalition now has a goal of collectively hiring one million youth by 2021. Starbucks contributed to the effort through hiring fairs in large cities that offered resume workshops, practice interviews and on-the-spot job offers.
4. Revitalizing Neighborhoods with Unique Stores
Throughout the year, Starbucks opened four stores with classroom and training space as part of its effort to support local economic development in diverse, low- to-medium income communities. The stores are located in Ferguson, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York; and the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago. These stores are creating meaningful jobs, providing in-store job-skills training programs for youth and investing in local minority-owned contractors and suppliers. Quite simply, they’re changing partners’ (employees) lives, too, as we discovered in this story from Cordell Lewis, the store manager in Ferguson who said, “I was opportunity youth.” Starbucks also announced plans to expand the national initiative to five new communities in 2017, including neighborhoods in the Baltimore; Birmingham; Long Beach, California; Miami; and Seattle areas.
5. Creating a Culture of Understanding
Starbucks reached a milestone in September by dedicating its 30th Military Family Store as an audience of veterans, military spouses, reservists and community members celebrated. Military Family Stores are located near major military bases and have been given the special designation as a place of welcoming and support for military communities around the country. The Starbucks® stores function as a hub within the military community and are staffed with many veterans and military spouses. The stores also work with nonprofit organizations to provide services for veterans and their families. Starbucks is well on its way toward its goal of hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.
6. Leading a Nationwide Effort to Donate Food
At the urging of its partners, Starbucks announced FoodShare in March. The program, which will roll out nationally by 2019, is designed to donate ready-to-eat meals to food banks from its 7,600 company-operated stores in the U.S. Initially, this is being accomplished through an existing collaboration with Food Donation Connection and a new partnership with Feeding America. In the first year alone, Starbucks® FoodShare will be able to provide nearly 5 million meals to individuals and families in need of nourishing food. Starbucks intends to scale this program over the next five years and rescue 100 percent of its food available for donation from participating company-operated U.S. stores. That amounts to almost 50 million meals by 2021.
7. Enabling Entrepreneurs to Dream Big
In August of 2014, demonstrations erupted in a small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. Months later, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer, setting off a second wave of protests, vandalism and arson, all documented by national and international media. Ferguson resident Natalie DuBose watched as protestors smashed the windows of her bakery and destroyed her equipment. Now, more than two years after one of the most challenging times in her life, DuBose’s bakery – Natalie’s Cakes & More – has grown from two employees to two dozen and her products are carried in more than 30 St. Louis-area Starbucks stores. Starbucks Retail Branded Partnerships seeks out small, local companies with innovative products and brings them to Starbucks stores. Some of the food options are offered regionally, while others are carried in stores across the U.S. Starbucks has launched more than 15 small brands in select stores in the past year.
8. Helping Partners Earn Their College Degree
Recently, more than 200 partners received their bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University (ASU) through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. Meet some of the new grads here. Introduced in June 2014, the innovative program provides partners an opportunity for full tuition reimbursement for an undergraduate degree from ASU. More than 6,500 partners are participating in ASU’s online degree programs and Starbucks is on track to have 1,000 ASU graduates through the program by May of 2017. Starbucks partners in Korea also have an opportunity to achieve their academic goals. This fall, Starbucks Coffee Korea introduced its College Achievement Plan to provide tuition support for partners who want to finish four-year college degrees.
9. Ensuring No Child Sleeps Outside
With family homelessness at a crisis point in Starbucks hometown of Seattle and the surrounding King County area, The Starbucks Foundation and Schultz Family Foundation joined an unprecedented employer-led effort to raise more than $3 million to ensure “No Child Sleeps Outside.” Learn more about the issue in this video produced by Starbucks. The campaign benefitting Mary’s Place is underway in more than 200 Starbucks stores across King County, where Starbucks will raise awareness and match customer donations (up to an additional $1 million) until the end of December.
10. Supporting the Next Generation of Family Farmers
A coffee tree produces only enough coffee cherries each season for a single pound of coffee – and aging trees, or those impacted by disease, produce much less. To help ensure the long-term supply of coffee and the economic future of farmers, Starbucks launched its One Tree for Every Bag Commitment to help ensure the long-term supply of coffee and the economic future of coffee farmers. With the help of its customers, Starbucks exceeded this goal in just over a year, raising enough funds to plant nearly 22 million new rust-resistant coffee trees. Starbucks has already distributed 10 million trees in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador this past summer, creating more than 800 jobs in farming communities. Over the next two years, nurseries will continue to grow seedlings and distribute them to farmers, along with agronomy support to make sure plants survive and can become as productive as possible.
For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom