Starbucks Investing $100m To Advance Equity In Its Communities

Jonathan Maze

January 12, 2021

Starbucks said on Tuesday that it is investing $100 million to create a fund that will support small businesses and community development projects to advance racial equity and “environmental resilience.”

The company also said that it is working with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and is also encouraging employees to volunteer with an organization that transcribes handwritten records containing newly emancipated Black people following the Civil War.

“Starbucks has always been a company focused on caring for our partners, creating experiences for our customers and playing a positive role in our communities and throughout society,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement.

The Seattle-based coffee giant said that it will invest $100 million by 2025 to support small business and community development projects in predominantly Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) neighborhoods—where businesses typically struggle to get financing.

The investments will focus on 12 metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The fund will work with community leaders and Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) to provide capital to small businesses and neighborhood projects. The funds will have a particular focus on projects that address the inequitable impacts of climate change.

Starbucks will work with organizations like the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to allocate the funds and provide mentorship and technical assistance. “Starbucks is investing in the survival of small business by working with CDFIs in key cities across America,” Lisa Mensah, CEO of OFN, said in a statement. “CDFIs deliver affordable credit as well as training on disaster recovery and rebuilding, and that is exactly what small businesses need right now to withstand ongoing economic and climate changes.”

The effort expands on Starbucks’ $10 million commitment in 2019 to support such organizations in Chicago.

Among the efforts it funded was Green Era Sustainability, which is constructing a sustainable campus in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago. The campus will feature a clean energy generation facility, urban farm, greenhouses, an outdoor fresh produce market, a visitor center with classrooms and an education center.  

Starbucks also said it would work with the NMAAHC to share the museum’s digital educational resources through its digital platforms. It will also invite employees and customers to participate in the Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project, which digitally transcribes handwritten records of newly emancipated Black people during Reconstruction. The effort helps African Americans discover their ancestors. It also helps historians better understand the years following the Civil War. The records will be used in a museum exhibition planned for this year on the Reconstruction Era.