For the past three seasons, Starbucks has been supporting opportunities for young athletes by serving bottled beverages to crowds who turn out in force at Seattle Seahawks training camp in Renton, Washington. The beverages have been free, with a suggested $2 donation going to Five Star Football, a local organization that strives to give kids under 14 a chance to get on the field, regardless of their athletic level or financial situation.
Last year, $11,650 was raised through Starbucks donations, up from $6,587 in 2014. As in years past, the money went to equipment and financial aid for participants in Renton-based Five Star Youth Football’s longstanding tackle football program for kids, ages 6-14. Five Star, however, had enough funds left over from last year to add NFL FLAG to the program
“We were very fortunate because of our fundraising efforts with Starbucks and the Seahawks to have funds left over even after giving out $14,500 in financial aid and paying all our league dues and operating expenses,” said Charles Burnham, president of the nonprofit organization.
Five Star’s mission aligns with Starbucks ongoing commitment to creating pathways to opportunity for youth. College prep workshops, leadership and community service opportunities and mentorship are offered as part of the program’s efforts to prepare participants for a life beyond football.
Burnham, a former college linebacker who has headed Five Star since 2014, said NFL FLAG appeals to families shying away from tackle football and also brings more girls out to play the game. Burnham estimates that one in eight participants in the kickoff season of flag football were girls, while only one in 20 participate in tackle football.
Burnham’s Northwest Premier Jr. Football & Cheer program partnered with the City of Seattle, the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Parks & Recreation to kick off its 2015 season. More than 150 kids from kindergarten through 8th grade participated in summer games, with police officers serving as coaches. Funds raised at Seahawks training camp in 2015 paid for league equipment and there was no participation fee.
“It was a great interaction between the police and the community,” said Burnham. “It was such a huge success. Our communities are so divided, even when you look at youth football. We really need to step back and ask why youth football exists. It’s not about the adults; it’s about the kids. It’s about bringing people together and having a great time. It’s about providing structure and an outlet. The more affordable we can make this for everyone, the closer we are to reaching our goals.”
Many families find it difficult to pay for organized sports, but Five Star strives to remove that barrier, according to Burnham. He estimates that 80 percent of kids in the program receive some form of financial aid to cover a portion or all of the $175 signup fee.
“I’m 48 years old and I harken back to the days when sports were free for everyone,” said Burnham. “We’re really focused on making sports more accessible for everyone.”
About Starbucks Hometown
For more than 40 years, Starbucks has had the pleasure of calling Seattle home. Starbucks is proud of its roots and honored to be a part of the community that has been with us from the beginning. Starbucks continues to celebrate the community at its SoDo headquarters, roasting plant in Kent, Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, and in stores throughout Western Washington. Starbucks is proud to support local initiatives through partnerships with like-minded local organizations including the University of Washington, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Theatre Group, Seafair, and the Seattle International Film Festival. Learn more at http://www.starbucks.com/seattle.