Starbucks tries to brew hope in White Center

KING 5's Elisa Hahn reports on the new effort from Starbucks to drive social impact by hiring opportunity youth.

Can coffee help change one of the roughest neighborhoods in a city?

Starbucks thinks it's possible. The company is opening 15 new stores in what it calls "underserved communities" around the country.

On Friday, a new store in White Center will open its doors.

"One of the things important to Starbucks is the social impact agenda that we drive," said CEO Kevin Johnson.

Part of that agenda is hiring a million so-called "opportunity youth," 16-24-year-olds who are out of work and out of school.

Nineteen-year-old Loni Stubblefield is one of them. She lives 10 minutes away from the store and grew up in a large family in White Center.

As one of the new baristas, she is looking forward to the pay and benefits.

"A lot of opportunity for growth and internships," Stubblefield said, "so if I want to move up, they're supportive of all of that."

Opportunity is the theme of the store all the way down to its brick and mortar. It was built by a woman-owned contractor. A room at the front of the store will house a job skills center.

"This is truly about good business; this is not charity," said Rodney Hines, Starbucks US Director of Social Impact.

Hines explained Starbucks picked White Center because of the progress the community has made so far.

"There is an undercurrent of work underway around economic development," Hines noted.

"The people are here, the commitment is here," said Maria Chavez Wilcox, CEO of YWCA, a partner in the project. "And I think it's getting the business to recognize the human capital is here to get the job done."

© 2017 KING-TV


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