A program for at-risk youth that has been thriving in Seattle is going to expand its reach around the country, thanks to the Schultz Family Foundation. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his wife Sheri are committing $3.4 million to train kids who have dropped out of high school with the skills they need to work as baristas or in other types of jobs.
Youthbuild, which has its roots in Seattle-based projects, YouthCare and FareStart, which train the homeless and have 500 graduates from the programs, will be focused on training at-risk teenagers starting in Harlem, NY and Gulfport, Miss. The program trains youths who have left school on how to be “job ready, ” to handle pressure and to work as part of a team. “These things young people probably learn in the first job, ” said Schultz, “These guys would never get in the door for the first job.”
Each participant must be working toward a high school degree, is given a stipend of $7 to $10 per hour and can graduate with 4 hours of college credits. Youthbuild, in addition to Schultz’s program to provide the option of an online degree from Arizona State University to each employee, is intended to remedy what Schultz sees as the “fracturing of the American dream, ” and the increasingly dead-end options for low income workers.
While Starbucks has been criticized for its erratic working hours and low pay, Starbucks offers its employees relatively better benefits than at equivalent places of employment.