In recognition of their work on behalf of youth and veterans, Howard Schultz, chairman and ceo of Starbucks and Sheri Schultz, co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation (SFF) have been honored with the Aspen Institute’s 2016 Public Service Award.
The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum promoting values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. One of the nonprofit’s priorities is finding ways to engage nearly six million people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working.
“The fastest growing population in America is called opportunity youth. At one time they were named at-risk youth, but we realized they are tremendous assets for a community,” said Sheri Schultz. “We wanted to get under the surface to understand what we could do to change that problem.”
Hiring opportunity youth and creating meaningful career paths for them is a key focus of SFF and Starbucks which, together with about 40 leading companies, are behind the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. Launched a year ago, the coalition brings the private and public sectors together to work with community-based organizations to train and hire 100,000 young Americans by 2018.
The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative’s effort has resulted in Starbucks and other major companies hiring thousands of young people, primarily through hiring fairs in Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Seattle. Mock interviews, resume workshops, and community resources features of the events that serve the interests of 70 percent of the attendees who may not be prepared for their first job.
“For the promise of American and the American Dream to avail itself to all of us, the country cannot be divided and leave so many people behind because of a lack of hope and opportunity,” said Howard Schultz. “I wish you could walk through these job fairs with us and see the talent, the passion and also the waste that we have in our system as a result of not utilizing all of this talent to the best of their ability. All they want, more than anything else, is a door to be opened and an opportunity to present itself.”
Creating Opportunities for All
Grounded in its Mission and Values, Starbucks has a series of initiatives aimed at creating pathways to opportunity for its partners (employees) and the communities it serves around the globe.
In addition to its commitment to hiring opportunity youth, Starbucks is investing in at least 15 new stores with on-site job training for youth in low-income communities. Two such stores have opened in Queens, New York and Ferguson, Missouri, with a third opening next week in Phoenix.
Starbucks is well on its way toward hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses, a commitment made in 2013. The company also plans to have at least 25,000 Starbucks College Achievement Plan graduates by 2025, and recently announced the expansion of a similar college benefit program for its partners in Korea.
“The country is in need of both an economic and moral transformation,” said Howard Schultz. “I think on a parallel track corporate America is need of its own transformation recognizing that chasing profits as a primary goal is a shallow objective and you’re not going to be able to create a great and enduring company unless there is more to the reason the company exists. There has to be a balance between profit and social impact.”