Starbucks shares profits with Los Angeles Urban League

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imageA Starbucks on Crenshaw Boulevard will share $100,000 with the Los Angeles Urban League this year as part of a pilot profit-sharing program.

The coffee giant’s charity grew out of the community after another local Starbucks was closed. Chris Strudwick-Turner, vice president of marketing and communications at the Urban League, says the closure sparked a conversation between the community and Starbucks.

“To [Starbucks CEO] Howard Schultz’ credit, he listened,” Strudwick-Turner say. “The decision was not reversed to reopen the store [but they did] really come in a positive big way in the community to say, we hear you. What are the needs? How can I help?”

Starbucks wasn’t immune from criticism when it closed 600 stores a few years ago. Some complained that the closures were made in neighborhoods that most needed the boost from business.

The Crenshaw Boulevard Starbucks is one of a handful of locations in South LA. In other neighborhoods, the coffee shop can be found every few blocks.

Still, Strudwick-Turner says Schultz has shown a personal commitment to Crenshaw. “I think that Mr. Schultz really has a game plan about creating jobs,” she says. “The genuineness about the needs of this community is not in question.”

The announcement of the profit-sharing initiative comes a day after Schultz announced the new “Create Jobs for USA” initiative, which will help small business secure loans. Schultz has also urged other business leaders to step up hiring.

“The focus will be on how can this store and how can Starbucks better serve park mesa heights and be a part of the community and not just be in the community,” Strudwick-Turner says. “If other corporations…do the same thing, it could be a real win-win for the community.”

The Urban League plans to use the funds for education and youth programming at Crenshaw High School. Strudwick-Turner hopes the profit sharing initiative will be the beginning of partnership.