March 7, 2016 Community & Responsibility

Starbucks Opens in Jamaica, Queens in National Effort to Engage Youth in Diverse Communities

  • Alisha Wrencher, Starbucks store manager
  • Jamaica, Queens - store partners

Similar Starbucks stores coming soon to at least 15 communities across the U.S. supporting economic development and community engagement through collaborations with local nonprofits and civic leaders

Store initiative is a key strategy in Starbucks previously stated goal of hiring 10,000 Opportunity Youth- 16-24 year olds who are not in school and not employed

Jamaica, NY, March 7, 2016 – Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) today unveiled its first-of-its-kind store in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, marking a key milestone in the company’s efforts to create pathways to meaningful training, employment and education for opportunity youth in one of America’s most diverse, yet underserved urban communities.

The store in Jamaica is the first in a nationwide initiative Starbucks announced last year to deepen investments in at least 15 similar communities across the U.S. by opening stores with the aim to create new jobs, engage local women and minority-owned vendors and suppliers, and collaborate with local nonprofits to support training opportunities for youth in each community, all while delivering a fantastic Starbucks retail experience.

Each of these stores will also have a dedicated in-store training space where young people can receive customer service and retail skills training, based on the same world-class training Starbucks partners (employees) receive. Starbucks will also leverage existing programs aimed at helping connect young people with internships, apprenticeships and jobs in these communities and foster the type of dialogue and engagement needed for continued social change. This training component will also help Starbucks continue to make progress on its commitment to connect Opportunity Youth – 16-24 year olds who are not in school nor employed; an estimated 5.5 million across the U.S. – to meaningful jobs, education and a pathway to lifelong success.

“Throughout Starbucks 45 years, we’ve challenged ourselves to help create opportunities for our partners and the communities we serve,” said Rodney Hines, director of community investments for Starbucks retail operations. “By making a long-term investment in the form of new stores, we hope to play a meaningful role in supporting ongoing efforts to transform these vibrant communities – starting here in Jamaica – from one with a legacy of systemic barriers to opportunity, to one where young people see a pathway to lifelong success.” 

In Jamaica, Queens, a New Starbucks Store Brings Opportunity for All  

Located at 89th & Sutphin, the first store in Starbucks national initiative has hired more than 20 partners, many from the Jamaica community, including store manager Alisha Wrencher, an 18-year Starbucks partner born and raised in Jamaica, Queens.

“We have so many resources available for our partners to grow their careers and to grow as individuals. It was clear when I first joined Starbucks 18 years ago, as it still is today, that Starbucks takes care of its partners. As the store manager, I’ll bring my enthusiasm and love for Starbucks Mission and Values to the new store in Jamaica Queens, which is where I grew up and where I still live today," said Wrencher. "Our store partners are going to be able to make an incredible impact in the community with their neighbors, friends and the people they see in their neighborhood every day."

Almost a quarter of a million of 16-24 year olds in New York, or one in five, are disconnected, with an overwhelming majority coming from poor households and communities, and from minority racial groups with 32% of disconnected youth being black and  22% Hispanic.[1]

“This Starbucks store opening is significant because not only is it in New York City, but it's here in Queens. As the first of its kind, the Queens site will serve as a model for the other 14 communities nationwide. It’s particularly encouraging considering the Jamaica Now Action Plan and the significant public investment committed and underway toward the revitalization and smart growth of Jamaica,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Like Jamaica Now, Starbucks too, saw the potential of Jamaica and the strength of its community. Like Jamaica Now, Starbucks, too, aims to expand opportunities. It's the perfect site for such synergy and we look forward to this partnership toward Jamaica's future.‎”

Dedicated Training Centers Enable Local Non Profits Train and Engage Opportunity Youth

To support ongoing efforts to address this opportunity gap, Starbucks has partnered with two local nonprofit organizations – Queens Community House (QCH) and YMCA’s Y Roads Centers – both of which have a long legacy of addressing the emerging needs and challenges of the young men and women from diverse background and delivering the right set of tools and programs that engage and empower youth to reach their full potential. Starbucks will work with the organizations to deliver customer service and retail skills training opportunities to their youth participants, utilizing a dedicated training space within the store specially created by Starbucks design studio. The onsite training will help meet an important need for local job skills training opportunities for local opportunity youth receiving services from Queens Connect and Y Roads, particularly those who are in the process of completing their high school education and preparing to enter the workforce. 

“Queens Connect is thrilled to partner with Starbucks on its new Jamaica location,” said Ben Thomases, Executive Director of Queens Community House, Queens Connect’s lead agency. “For 40 years, we have been working to strengthen neighborhoods and bring special opportunities to individuals within the borough. This partnership with Starbucks allows us to help even more young people to develop their skills, launch their careers, and become meaningful contributors to their community.”

"The partnership between the YMCA of Greater New York and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow offers a path to success for opportunity youth who are in need of services to help them find employment and to continue their education. We are proud to join hands with Starbucks to empower young people in Jamaica, Queens with marketable skills to help them to find meaningful employment in a supportive and fun environment,” said Gary Laermer, Chief Development Officer for New York City’s YMCA.

The new Starbucks location in Jamaica will help inform the design and development for similar stores coming to at least 15 communities across the U.S. by 2018, each of which will hire 20-25 people, work with local minority-owned vendors and suppliers, and collaborate with local nonprofits. The next location to open will be in the West Florissant neighborhood of Ferguson, Missouri, where Starbucks broke ground on a new café and drive thru store in November last year and is working with woman- and minority-owned bakery Natalie’s Cakes and More, a local business that was severely vandalized during the unrest in Ferguson in 2014. Starbucks is now carrying the bakery’s signature caramel cake at a dozen St. Louis-area locations. As a result, her workforce has grown from three to 13.

“We look for people like Alisha, Natalie and local leaders when developing these stores because they know the community, understand the unique needs facing young people who are looking for meaningful work, and share in our belief that businesses and communities can work together to support economic development and social change,” added Hines. “It’s the idea that we can do well and do good, and use our scale to create a positive impact in each community.”


[1] Kids Count - Indicator Brief: Reducing the Number of Disconnected Youth, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, July 2005, authored by Dr. Rima Shore for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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