Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq:SBUX) today entered into an agreement with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation to provide 12 million RMB ($1.5 million USD) to support a program aimed at helping students in need—and their teachers—in rural China.

In a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, attended by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, key Chinese government officials including Mme. Gu Xiulian, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and Chairman of All China Women’s Federation, local dignitaries and community leaders, Starbucks and China Soong Ching Ling Foundation signed a formal agreement which establishes a program to help improve access to education for disadvantaged youth and provide quality training for women teachers in rural areas. China Soong Ching Ling Foundation anticipates reaching approximately 3,000 teachers and thousands of students by the year 2010.

The agreement outlines a multi-faceted educational improvement program that will be carried out over the next four years, two elements of which were detailed today. The first is “Teaching the Teachers.” Three thousand female teachers from 1,000 primary and middle school in five Western provinces (Chongqing, Yunnan, Shannxi, Sichuan and Ningxia) will be given training during summer and winter holidays to improve their teaching skills and provide them with updated techniques to help their students learn. The second component of the program will focus on installing Starbucks Libraries in 300 schools. Each library will be outfitted with books, computers, teaching tools, and upgraded sports facilities.

“We are as passionate about our commitment to our communities as we are about achieving financial success,” says Schultz. “By creating this program with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, which has done so much good work for children, we will provide tools and teacher training that will help children in rural China build brighter futures.”

Mr. Yu Guilin, executive vice chairman of China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, notes that “Starbucks has been in China for just a few years, but they clearly understand how important education is to the people of China and how vital it is to provide much-needed assistance to children in rural China, particularly young girls. With this commitment, we also will be able to provide up-to-date training for rural teachers, so they will have the skills necessary to inspire these young minds and help them learn.”

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