Starbucks “Upstanders” Returns with Extraordinary Stories of Courage and Compassion across America

Produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Season 2 uncovers more inspiring stories about people who are fearlessly standing up for others to create positive change

Starbucks Foundation announces “Upstanders Challenge” to celebrate charities that are making a difference through courageous action in their communities

October 9, 2017 - SEATTLE – Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) today announced the release of Upstanders Season 2, an original series featuring 11 stories of courage and humanity happening in communities across America every day.

Each story in the series was written and produced by Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks executive producer and a former senior editor of The Washington Post. The series is now available online at, Amazon Prime Video through Amazon Video Direct and Audible. An exclusive full-length documentary of the series is available to millions of Amazon Prime members, and an exclusive audiobook narrated by Michael B. Jordan is free to listen to on Audible at Upstanders is also on Watch, a new platform for episodic shows on Facebook, with new episodes every Mondays and Thursdays.

“The heroics of this season’s Upstanders remind us that there are countless untold stories of courage and extraordinary acts happening across communities in America today,” said Schultz. “In every community, there are stories of compassion and respect and of people who have a willingness to fight for what they believe in, and to unite despite our differences. As a company, we believe we have a role and responsibility to share these kinds of stories and help inspire the kind of action that helps create opportunities for all.”

“In Upstanders, we reveal a different side of America than we often see on television or in our social-media feeds,” said Chandrasekaran. “These are compelling, original stories of empathy and civility, of friendship and love, of selflessness and sacrifice. These stories are set in small towns and big cities, from coast to coast, and they introduce us to people who are fearlessly challenging the status quo and making our communities better.”

Meet the Upstanders in Season 2:

  • Knives, Fire and Opportunity: Chad Houser quit his job as the executive chef at a hot Dallas eatery and risked his career to open a restaurant staffed almost exclusively by former juvenile detention inmates.
  • The Wave to Recovery: Navy SEALs Alex West and Kyle Buckett spend their nights and weekends designing specialized surfboards for wounded warriors, helping them build strength and confidence in the waves.
  • From War to Montana: Mary Poole, a mother with no background in foreign policy, convinced her community to welcome refugees by harnessing hundreds of volunteers and embracing her opponents.
  • Befriending Her Shooter: Ian Manuel was just 13 when he shot Debbie Baigrie. A year into his life sentence, he called her to apologize. That eventually led to her forgiveness, an unlikely friendship and a mission to help free him.
  • Planting Hope in the Coalfield: Entrepreneur Brandon Dennison decided to address poverty in his native West Virginia by extending a hand of opportunity to former coal miners.
  • A Racist’s Rehabilitation: When Garry Civitello admitted he was prejudiced on national television, a black woman named Heather McGee offered him advice to become a better American. The exchange transformed his life and forged a remarkable friendship.
  • One Doctor’s Needle Fix: Hansel Tookes spent four years on a life-saving mission to convince Florida legislators to allow drug users in Miami to exchange dirty needles for clean ones.
  • Love for All in Utah: Stephenie Larsen forged past fear and skepticism to create the first LGBT community center in Provo, Utah, in an attempt to reduce suicides among gay teens and build bridges with the Mormon Church.
  • Saving Middletown: Ami Vitori gave up a successful big-city career and tapped her retirement fund to help rebuild the struggling Rust Belt community of Middletown, Ohio.
  • The Firefighter’s Rescuer: Seattle firefighter Mike Washington told colleagues about some of his most painful and personal moments to encourage them to seek help and draw more attention to stress among our nation’s first responders.
  • The Disappearing Island: Former South Carolina Republican congressman Bob Inglis, who once scoffed at climate change, overcame a humiliating defeat by deciding to take on skeptics within his party.

Additionally, in honor of Upstanders Season 2, the Starbucks Foundation is launching the “Upstanders Challenge” to celebrate charities that are making a difference in their communities. The Foundation will award twenty-five (25) $25,000 grants to eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in the U.S. The contest begins at 6:00 PM PT on October 9, 2017 and runs through 11:59 PM PT October 31, 2017. The winners will be announced by November 30, 2017

Anyone can participate in the Upstanders Challenge by:

  1. Creating a video (2 minutes or less) that explains what makes their favorite charity an “Upstander.”
  2. Uploading the video to the Upstanders challenge page and then sharing it in social media once approved for posting; and
  3. Encouraging others to watch, like and share it in social to drive “buzz” for that charity

A panel of judges will select 25 winning charities to receive a $25,000 grant out of the top 40 eligible “buzz” generating charities. To participate, and for full details the rules and terms of the challenge, visit

In addition, Arizona State University (ASU) has partnered with Starbucks to develop supplemental resources for Season 2 of Upstanders. ASU’s Discussion Guide poses thought-provoking questions for educators and citizen change-makers to facilitate engagement with the series. ASU also developed suggested lesson plan activities for teachers to implement in their classrooms targeting students in grades 5-12. These activities aid students considering the issues and actions presented in select Upstander videos, and they prompt students to think critically about how they can improve issues in their own community.

About Starbucks

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 26,000 stores around the globe, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at and

(1) NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who have reached the age of 18 at the time of entry. Employees of Starbucks Corporation, visit Contest ends 10/31/17. Void where prohibited. Subject to Official Rules, available at