Starbucks, United Way, Mary’s Place and Wellspring welcome UW to coalition supporting local unsheltered families


In the last year Family Resource Exchanges have provided thousands of unsheltered families with resources they need and connected hundreds of families with permanent housing

Coalition leaders call on more in the business community to join the effort

SEATTLE – Today local community leaders welcomed University of Washington to a coalition dedicated to supporting unsheltered families across Puget Sound. The University will host three Family Resource Exchanges that will take place on its campuses in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma, expanding the coalition’s ability to help unsheltered families in the region. This commitment comes shortly after the one-year anniversary of the first exchange in King County last summer.

In one year, Starbucks, United Way of King County, Mary’s Place and Wellspring Family Services have led six exchanges connecting more than 3,000 families to critical resources and services, including housing resources for more than 800 families.

Family Resource Exchanges: An innovative model

The Family Resource Exchange concept stemmed from a homelessness summit hosted at Starbucks Support Center in SoDo last year when the company convened business leaders, government officials and homeless advocates to develop possible solutions to the growing family homelessness crisis. The group agreed to create a venue for businesses, the public sector and non-profits to meet families directly in their communities to provide resources, with an emphasis on providing access to stable housing.

“In just one year, we’ve seen real impact through the Family Resource Exchanges – it’s a model that’s working, but there’s still more to do,” said John Kelly, senior vice present of global public affairs and social impact at Starbucks. “We’re proud to have University of Washington, one of Starbucks long-standing partners, join the effort, and we encourage others in the business community to join as well.”

The next Family Resource Exchange will take place at the University of Washington Bothell campus on Wednesday, August 21. This will include services to help connect families to housing options, job opportunities, financial coaching, public benefits, legal expungement and special services for students experiencing homelessness. Additional Family Resource Exchanges will take place at the University of Washington’s Seattle and Tacoma campuses, with dates to be announced.

“We are working to meet the needs of the hundreds of unsheltered families in our community,” said Lauren McGowan, senior director of ending homelessness & poverty for United Way of King County. “That’s why the partnership with Starbucks, Mary’s Place, Wellspring and the University of Washington is so powerful. With their support we can go to where these families and students are and offer them more resources that are relevant to them – whether that’s housing, special services for college students, on-the-spot job interviews, haircuts, new shoes or groceries for the week.”

“These neighborhood-based events are such an effective way to connect with families in need in our community,” said Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place. “At these smaller locations we can meet families where they are, build relationships and offer them the services they need to be stably housed.” 

“The Family Resource Exchange is remarkable for the diversity of resources all being on location, at the same time, poised to help families,” said Walter Washington, senior director of housing services at Wellspring Family Services. “But we know it can be overwhelming for families, so we aim to personally help each family navigate successfully – and we see evidence that this extra attention is effective for lasting solutions.”

Addressing the needs of homeless students

Coalition members praised the involvement of University of Washington in the Family Resource Exchange effort, as it will expand the ability to serve more families and young people in the region, particularly students battling homelessness and food insecurity.

According to a recent University of Washington survey of food and housing insecurity across the University’s three campuses, an estimated 190 students may lack a stable place to live, and about one-quarter of students have worried recently about having enough to eat. In the year leading up to that survey, an estimated 4,800 to 5,600 students experienced housing instability, spending nights in a vehicle, shelter or tent, or staying with friends.

“We know that some of our students are struggling to maintain stable living situations and reliable access to healthy food, especially as the cost of living has increased,” said Sally J. Clark, University of Washington’s director of regional & community relations. “We are glad to join in as part of the community to support stable housing not just for our students and their families, but also for our neighbors.”

To extend its support of unsheltered families, Starbucks announced earlier this month it will present the SEAchanger waterfront concert alongside KEXP and Friends of the Waterfront on September 14. The full price of each ticket sold will go toward service providers like Mary’s Place and Wellspring Family Services to increase their support of unsheltered families in King County.


About Mary’s Place

Mary’s Place believes that no one’s child should sleep outside. They provide safe, inclusive shelter and services to serve women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.  www.marysplaceseattle.org

About Starbucks
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 30,000 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 our stores or online at news.starbucks.com and Starbucks.com.

About University of Washington

The University of Washington was founded in 1861 and is one of the pre-eminent public higher education and research institutions in the world with three campuses in Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma. The University’s impact on individuals, the region and the world is profound — whether launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of this time through undaunted research and scholarship.

About United Way of King County

United Way of King County brings caring people together to give, volunteer and take action to help people in need and solve our community’s toughest challenges. Together, we’re building a community where people have homes, students graduate, and families are financially stable.

About Wellspring Family Services
For more than 125 years, Wellspring Family Services has worked to help families in crisis regain stability. Wellspring’s goal is to end the cycle of family homelessness by helping families navigate the services available in our community, preventing evictions and securing safe and stable housing, addressing the causes and impact of trauma, and helping prepare young children for success in Kindergarten and beyond. Our research-based, wrap-around approach is designed to address the factors linked to repeat homelessness and help families find long-term stability. https://wellspringfs.org/