He walked into the expansive exhibit hall looking overwhelmed and timid. After a brief conversation, I looked over the resume he had prepared for today. It was clean and concise. I asked if Jamal would like to participate in a practice interview before heading to the real thing. He assured me that he was already prepared and really hoped to find a job at the Opportunity Youth job fair, a Starbucks initiative.
Starbucks, in partnership with the Schultz Foundation, is leading a group of 50 companies in an initiative called Opportunity Youth, with the goal of providing employment opportunities for 100,000 youth across the country.
A few hours passed and I saw Jamal again, walking right toward me. Holding up an offer letter with the Starbucks logo in the top corner and grinning from ear to ear, he declared that he’d received an offer and was the newest employee in the Starbucks family. We talked for a few minutes about his excitement, his smile never diminished.
By chance, Howard Schultz happened to be standing about ten feet away. I asked Jamal if he knew who Mr. Schultz was, and explained how he’d taken Starbucks from a small store in Seattle to a global powerhouse fueling productive work days around the world as they inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. I suggested to Jamal that he go over and introduce himself to Mr. Schultz as the newest employee to the company Howard built.
With his new found confidence, Jamal walked over, introduced himself and spent a few minutes being encouraged by Howard about his future. Mr. Schultz put his hand on the young man’s shoulder, looked into his eyes, and spoke belief and possibility into him. It was stirring to watch.
Better Good Group’s partnership with Starbucks has been a highlight during this first year, and the opportunity to work with a global brand that highly values social impact has been an honor. The executives I’ve encountered are values-driven leaders, each one desiring to make the world a better place while also generating significant profits for their shareholders. When launching Better Good Group, I believed that those were not mutually exclusive ideas—profit and social good— and I have found that to be absolutely true.
Better Good Group worked with the Global Social Impact division of Starbucks to design and implement a community engagement and marketing strategy for Opportunity Youth’s Washington D.C. job fair. By partnering with faith communities, universities, not-for-profit organizations, and leveraging strategic social media advertising campaigns, we were able to generate significant engagement well beyond what Starbucks expected, with over twice as many registered youth than any previous event.
Seeing the event first-hand in D.C. was an amazing experience. To watch young adults walk in anxious and unsure and leave a few hours later having obtained employment—and a confidence boost—was inspiring. More than 1000 young adults left the one-day event with not only a job but increased hope for their future as well.
In addition to employment, the companies partnering with Opportunity Youth also provide access to education. Starbucks has a partnership with Arizona State University so that each of their employees can earn an accredited online degree without cost while working for Starbucks. So when a young adult gets a job through Opportunity Youth, they don’t just get a paycheck. They also become part of a community, find hope in employment, and gain equalized access to a quality college education that can transform generations.
Watch the video below to learn more about Opportunity Youth and be inspired! I had the honor of giving a brief interview at the end about the importance of this work.
Founder, Better Good Group LLC