Starbucks Creates $100 Million Fund to Support Minority Development Projects

    The projects will promote racial inclusivity and address climate change.

    Fast Food | January 2021 | Ben Coley
    Starbucks strawless lids.
    Starbucks
    The fund will partner with community leaders and Community Development Finance Institutions.

    Starbucks announced Tuesday that it's committing $100 million by 2025 to launch the Starbucks Community Resilience Fund, which is focused on supporting small businesses and development projects in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

    The fund will partner with community leaders and Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) to advance racial equity and address the impact of climate change in neighborhoods with historically limited capital. The initial focus areas are Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

    “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. “We are excited to make this investment as it aligns with our Mission and Values and supports our aspiration to advance equity and opportunity in the communities we serve.”

    The funds are realized in just three steps. First, Starbucks will send money to CDFIs that have direct experience with minority areas. The coffee chain will partner with organizations like the Opportunity Finance Network to allocate funds to local CDFIs.

    “Starbucks is investing in the survival of small business by working with CDFIs in key cities across America. 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,” said Lisa Mensah, Opportunity Finance Network president and CEO, in a statement. “With partners like Starbucks and CDFIs, these small businesses will have a fighting chance to recover, rebuild, hire workers and serve their local economy.”

    Next, these CDFIs will provide local borrowers with access to capital to assist with small business growth and/or community development projects. These organizations also offer coaching, flexibility on loan repayments, and an easier underwriting process. All of the funds and expertise are part of a concerted effort to ensure the success of the project. The final step is for these projects to have their intended effect—advancing inclusivity and resiliency.

    The Starbucks Community Resilience Fund builds upon a 2019 investment that saw the brand invest $10 million in four CDFIs in Chicago. Green Era Sustainability, a local group that aims to create sustainable communities through better food production, received loans from CDFIs to construct a 2-acre clean generation facility, urban farm, greenhouses, an outdoor fresh produce market, a visitors center, and a STEM education center in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

    Chicago Community Loan Fund and IFF, CDFIs that received funds from Starbucks, provided loans to Green Era to support the project.

    “Starbucks investment means we’ve been able to drive more capital to small businesses and nonprofits that are innovating and providing critical services in local communities,” said Matthew Roth, IFF president of core business solutions, in a statement. “The pandemic has highlighted how important CDFIs are in the financial ecosystem, ensuring capital reaches non-profits and small businesses serving low-income communities that are traditionally left out of mainstream finance.”

    The investment news comes after Starbucks reaffirmed its commitment to diversity in October. The chain is setting a goal for at least 30 percent of all corporate roles and at least 40 percent of all retail and manufacturing roles to be represented by Black, Indigenous, and people of color workers by 2025. Additionally, the Starbucks Foundation is increasing its investment in local areas by giving $1.5 million in grants to nearly 400 nonprofit groups that serve Black communities. The Foundation will also use $5 million to begin a two-year initiative that will help nonprofits serving youth in the Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities.

    In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Starbucks is also partnering with the National Museum of African American History and Culture to share the museum’s digital educational resources across Starbucks digital platforms. The coffee chain will invite volunteers to participate in the Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project in which volunteers transcribe information about newly freed Black people during the Reconstruction period.