SARAH SKIDMORE | Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. – Starbucks hopes customers will be willing to pay at least $5 more when they stop in for their morning cup of Joe.
Starting Nov. 1, Starbucks will begin collecting donations of $5 or more from customers to stimulate U.S. job growth through its “Jobs for USA” program. The Seattle-based coffee chain is collaborating with the Opportunity Finance Network, a nonprofit that works with nearly 200 community development financial institutions to provide loans to small businesses and community groups. Starbucks says 100 percent of the donations will go toward loans for firms and organizations that can add jobs or stem job losses.
Starbucks, which revolutionized how Americans drink coffee, declined to estimate how much money it plans to raise, but millions of people visit its nearly 7,000 company-owned U.S. stores each day. Customers who give will get a red, white and blue wristband that says “Indivisible.”
“This is about using Starbuck’s scale for good,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks Corp.’s CEO.
The program is the latest effort by Schultz to address the nation’s economic woes. In August, he sent more than 200,000 Starbucks employees a memo urging them to do what they can to help business thrive. Then, he asked fellow CEOs to stop contributing to political campaigns until the nation’s leaders reached a long-term economic solution. After that, he hosted a national telephone forum, bought full-page ads in two major newspapers and started a website, Upwardspiral2011.org.
Schultz said he feels personal responsibility to do something to stimulate the U.S. economy. Starbucks is hiring about 200 people a day in the U.S. as part of its efforts to remodel thousands of stores and add about 200 more locations in the next year. But Schultz said he wanted to do more.
Starbucks is covering the operational costs to get loans out through the program, which will run indefinitely. Its charitable arm, The Starbucks Foundation, is giving $5 million to get the program started, with the hope that funds will be invested in communities within a month of a donation being made.
Opportunity Finance Network works with 180 financial institutions – banks, credit, unions, loan funds and venture capital funds – that give loans in low-income communities that don’t have easy access to credit. The organization, created 27 years ago, has invested $23.2 billion and generated nearly 300,000 jobs through 2009.