The Starbucks Foundation and Schultz Family Foundation announced their support of the annual No Child Sleeps Outside campaign by Mary’s Place. Together with other businesses, they are joining an unprecedented effort to mobilize the community, and contributing over $3 million to provide safe emergency shelter for the estimated 500 unsheltered families in King County including hundreds of children. The campaign also has the support of companies like Microsoft Corp., Dick’s Drive-In, Comcast, Alaska Airlines, Weyerhaeuser, Expedia, Nordstrom, Group Health Cooperative, Bank of America, Key Bank Foundation, Group Health, Seattle Mariners, as well as the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Seattle Association which together represent thousands of Seattle businesses.
Following a nearly 20 percent jump in the homeless count last year, families with young children are waiting months for emergency shelter, leaving many sleeping on the streets, in cars and parks across the community. This move by The Starbucks Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Microsoft, and others supports an immediate expansion of Mary’s Place, and responds to the critical, short-term need to bring unsheltered families inside. Separately, the organizations also expressed support for the mayor’s Pathways Home strategy which addresses some of the systemic problems contributing to the homeless crisis. It includes a shift towards rapid rehousing, funding for expanded shelter hours at several shelters, and the creation of lockers for the homeless. Recognizing that city and county reforms to provide affordable housing will take months or years, supporters of the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign believe it is critical to provide immediate emergency shelter for hundreds of children.
“The 500 families with small children who are sleeping outside in King County cannot wait for the promised reforms and housing that will take a year or more,” says Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive officer of Starbucks and co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation. “We need to treat this daily tragedy with the same urgency that would follow any natural disaster. This is a short-term but urgent humanitarian need, and we are proud to join other Seattle employers in the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign.”
Mary’s Place is a 17-year-old emergency shelter organization with six locations throughout the county that operates primarily with private funding. Mary’s Place provides emergency shelter to nearly 40 percent of families experiencing homelessness across King County by serving 115-120 families per night, and 400 families throughout the year. However, 20 families a day are still turned away because there is not enough capacity at these shelters.
“King County is facing an unprecedented homelessness crisis and more than 500 families are sleeping outside each night in places unfit for habitation,” says Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place. “It breaks our hearts to have to turn them away each day. We are so incredibly grateful for the support of our business partners like Starbucks, Microsoft, the Schultz Family Foundation and so many others who are making it possible for us to expand our services and bring more families inside to warmth, safety, and stability.”
“No child should have to sleep outside at night. We must come together as a community to address this vital need as a local imperative,” says Brad Smith, Microsoft president. “We are pledging $1 million, including $250,000 to Mary’s Place, to address homelessness across King County. We will support partners throughout the area to pursue both short- and long-term systemic solutions, including permanent housing.”
In addition to a $1 million financial contribution to the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign, The Starbucks Foundation will match every dollar donated by customers in participating King County Starbucks stores between December 1st and 31st, up to an additional $1 million dollars to help shelter local families. The Starbucks Foundation will also allocate an additional $250,000 to other local nonprofits including the United Way, YWCA, and Youth Care that connect homeless families and youth to job placement programs, and other critical services.
Howard and Sheri Schultz, co-founders of the Schultz Family Foundation, are also personally contributing $1 million to Mary’s Place through the Schultz Family Foundation to expand both shelter capacity and the organization’s ability to move families into permanent housing. In addition, the Schultz Family Foundation will continue to support other Seattle homelessness organizations to reduce the number of unsheltered youth and young adults.