Is Starbucks A Vehicle For Change?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants action. “We can’t wait for Washington. Business leaders have to step up and do our part,” he said.

Ergo, profits from Starbucks stores in the Harlem section of Manhattan and the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles will now flow into community organizations that work to improve education and job training for young adults in those areas.

According to The Wall Street Journal, high-school students in those neighborhoods also will receive barista training at the Starbucks shops.

According to Credit Union Times, one of Starbucks’ partners in this effort, Create Jobs for USA, will accept donations online at nearly 6,800 company-operated Starbucks stores in the United States. Donors who contribute $5 or more will receive a red, white and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.” The wristband is designed to serve as a symbol of Americans uniting with other Americans to help create jobs.

The money raised will go to help fund loans to community businesses, including small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate and affordable housing.

Not everyone thinks good thoughts about this seemingly generous move from Starbucks. For instance, Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business, tweeted, “On Starbucks. If you think a giant biz funding small biz as an equity investor under the guise of “helping society” ain’t cynical…”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Jeff Kwiatek says:

    Umair’s response strikes me as the most cynical thing about this whole story. At least Starbucks is trying to make change in a community. they’re attempting to create jobs which is much more than can be said about other companies.

    Hating on them for that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  2. This idea seems really good at first sight, but it is true that when we have a tiny budget to live and just enjoy ourselves once a week only with a $4 coffee we can not all afford to play extra $5…