One of the big unknowns by the general public is how much Starbucks contributes to its surrounding communities. I worked at a new center in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Journal Center) that was in a high-volume business area which meant we had a lot of guests M-F but relatively slow Saturdays.
One of my guests was the director of a non-profit devoted to literacy, ReadWest, Inc. I got to know her and over time I discovered that Starbucks also had the Starbucks Foundation which provided grants to organizations like ReadWest. At the time, I was studying PR in college when I had my Eureka! moment. We could apply for a grant for ReadWest and then build a literacy campaign around it. It would stimulate awareness in the non-profit, literacy in general and also highlight to locals that our Journal Center store was open on Saturdays!
This was the first PR campaign I ever got to put together. In May 1998, we invited local celebrities (Mayor, Governor's wife, news anchors, etc.) to come to the store and read books to kids. It was so heartwarming! Each week we generated free publicity for all involved. It was a rare feel-good story that May! I was so proud to have been part of it.
It is said that no good deed goes unpunished. I was working with our PR firm in Denver for the campaign. I became good friends with my counterpart and when I graduated from college she wrote a recommendation letter for my internship application in Washington, DC. Long story short? I got the internship that launched my PR career in Congress for seven years!
I owe so much to Starbucks and one reason I have always had positive feelings for the company is that it truly puts its values front and center.