Doing good together: How Starbucks is making communities stronger in Asia

At Starbucks, we have always been about bringing people together and strengthening the communities we serve. Across Asia, Starbucks is working with like-minded organizations to drive positive impact in local communities, while bringing our partners and customers together to leverage our scale for good and achieve meaningful change.

Providing Hunger Relief in the Philippines through Starbucks FoodShare program

In March, we expanded the Starbucks FoodShare food donation program, which donates unsold food and distributes it to people facing hunger. A program that started with 40 stores in the Metro Manila area has now expanded to 238 stores across the Philippines.

Starbucks partner Juan Carlo “JC” Cruz, a store manager in Manila, has played a key role in bringing this program to life. His store at Ayala North Exchange donates its end-of-day food to the Philippine Food Bank Foundation, which then distributes it to children and under-resourced families.

“The FoodShare program opened my eyes to the fact that being a Starbucks partner goes beyond handcrafting beverages. It is about walking our talk in uplifting humanity through the different communities we are a part of,” says JC.

As the day ends, JC and his team sort through the unsold perishable food items, getting them ready for the Philippine Food Foundation to collect and distribute. Once checked for quality, food like the local sweet bread roll pandesal, Danish pastries, and sausage rolls are all donated to those in need.

As a partner and an active member of the community, JC has immersed himself in the program. “The FoodShare program elevates us in a way that we are able to show our dedication to fulfilling our social and civic responsibilities,” he says. “We always look for ways to help our community by joining organizations that advocate ending issues like hunger. As much as we can, we try to provide a greater impact, one store at a time.”

And JC can see the ripple effect on customers too.  “ Programs like this raise awareness of the unseen struggles faced by the underprivileged,” he says.

Empowering Young People with The Starbucks Foundation Grants

The Global Community Impact Grants are part of The Starbucks Foundation’s commitment to invest US$30 million by 2030 to drive locally relevant impact. The Grants were announced in March 2022, and fund programs that create meaningful local impact, expanding on the company’s people positive ambition to enhance the well-being of all who connect with Starbucks.

In Asia Pacific, The Starbucks Foundation aims to invest in youth, and in 2022 awarded 24 grants across 10 markets in Asia Pacific, with a focus on uplifting, creating opportunities and building connections with young people.

Among the grantees is The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the city’s largest youth service organization. The grant will support the Career Starter program, which aims to provide 60 young people with basic digital skills, internships, and core skills for work readiness.

“We are thrilled to work with Starbucks to launch the Career Starter that empowers young people and can unleash their potential,” says Vicky Kwong, Supervisor at The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. “Career Starter will provide disadvantaged young people not only with digital skills, training workshops and job shadowing, but also with opportunities for internships and community services.”

With digital transformation and artificial intelligence reshaping the future workplace, teaching digital skills to young people is crucial to helping them reach their full potential. Beyond enhancing participants’ competitiveness and employability, the program aims to give young people a safe space to explore careers in the IT sector and more. To further support participants’ development of skills to succeed in the workplace, Starbucks partners will serve as guest mock interviewers to help build confidence and experience.

Elsewhere across the region, Starbucks is also promoting the love of reading with children in Cambodia, while uplifting girls and women in Malaysia through the support from the Starbucks Foundation.

Since 2017, Starbucks has worked with The Asia Foundation in Cambodia on a project called "Let's Read!”, which is all about building positive reading habits in children.

With Starbucks support, the project has brought together local talent to create storybooks, including “Kaldi and the Dancing Goats” and “A Treat for Everyone”, which were sold at local Starbucks stores to raise money for “Let’s Read!”. Starbucks has also supported efforts to put more Khmer language books in the hands of children, including a digital translation event that brought together young volunteers and language experts to translate 20 storybooks exploring women’s empowerment.

Commenting on the initiative, The Asia Foundation said: “Starbucks was an early and consistent supporter of “Let’s Read!”. Our collaboration with Starbucks has created fun and educational stories for children in Cambodia and built strong reading habits.”

Starbucks and The Asia Foundation will launch a local community reading campaign later this year, whilst conducting additional library refurbishments, and provide read aloud training in schools.

In Malaysia, Starbucks is contributing to the Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC) transformational project, a community-led initiative by YWCA Kuala Lumpur. The grant will be utilized over three years to enhance the VTOC courses, as well as equip the students with the knowledge and abilities required to thrive in an ever-changing, dynamic, and uncertain environment.

Kartiyani Palaniandy, who graduated from the program in 2017, reflects on her experience.

“The program really helped me build my confidence, both externally and within myself,” she says. “The program facilitators helped us get out of our shells and made us proud of ourselves and everything we are capable of. They taught us how to be brave, confident, and to think smarter. It really helped me a lot.”

When asked about the most useful skills she learned from the program, Kartiyani says beauty and hair. Today, Kartiyani is proudly self-employed, running her own makeup artist business – an achievement she credits to the skills she learned and confidence she gained through the program. She’s also an assistant teacher for the VTOC’s beauty care class.

No matter what goals other women and girls have, she thinks there is value in going through the program: “VTOC is a great place to find strength within ourselves, achieving things we didn’t think were possible. The facilitators have given us a helping hand and appreciated everything that we do. I truly believe that VTOC has made us all better versions of ourselves.”

Impact at Scale

As we build on the momentum of these inspiring initiatives, together with our partners, non-profit partners, and local communities, we’re committed to making a continued positive impact on the communities that we serve across Asia and beyond – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

thumbnail for Starbucks Korea announces its eighth Community Store to bolster youth employment initiatives

Starbucks Korea announces its eighth Community Store to bolster youth employment initiatives