Starbucks Canada Launches Canadian Work Placement Program for At-Risk Youth

Starbucks Canada Joins Forces with Three Leading Not-for-Profit Organizations to Expand Life and Work Skills Development in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto

TORONTO, June 12, 2014 /CNW/ - With youth unemployment rates at more than double the national averagei, 16-24 year-old Canadians are facing a national crisis and  those who struggle with additional barriers are even more at-risk of remaining not just unemployed but unemployable.    Today, Starbucks Canada announced it is taking steps to help Canada's most disadvantaged youth get the skills and training they need to build better futures with the expansion of the Starbucks Canada work-placement and barista training program.

Together with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) in Vancouver; Wood's Homes in Calgary; and Yonge Street Mission (YSM) in Toronto, Starbucks Canada will support youth employment programs in each city, which combine in-class core life skills and employability training with real-life on-the-job work placement experience.   The company will invest $840,000 over the next three years to drive this program.    In its first year, Starbucks will support 134 barriered youth – those who may be homeless, out of foster care or recovering from addiction; may have little or no high school education, may be unable to afford the rising costs of education; or may suffer from mental illness -with in-store work-placements, in the hopes that upon graduation, these young people will either find jobs or go back to school to further their education.

"For thousands of young Canadians, June marks a time for celebration as students plan for graduation ceremonies and prepare for their future careers.  But for many of Canada's most at-risk and disadvantaged youth, there is no graduation, no future planning and no opportunity for a career," says Luisa Girotto, director, public affairs and community, Starbucks Canada. "Together with three incredible organizations, we're giving the gift of hope to youth who have struggled with difficult upbringings: hope to get off the edge of the streets and hope for a brighter future."

Starbucks has been committed to supporting youth in Canada since it opened its first café in Vancouver. B.C.   Over the last 27 years, Starbucks Canada has been hiring and developing Canadian young people, with youth representing more than 60 per cent of the company's partner (employee) base.  Since 2009, Starbucks Canada, through the Starbucks Foundation, has awarded more than $794,000 Starbucks Youth Leadership grants to youth organizations that equip and engage young in business savvy, social conscience and collaborative communication. 

Today's announcement builds on Starbucks Canada's existing, decade-long work placement relationship with PCRS and the Baristas program. The Baristas program is a key component of the PCRS Youth Employment service, and offers life skills and employability workshops in addition to in-store training.  Over the last 10 years, more than 350 youth have graduated from the Baristas program in lower mainland B.C. – more than 80 per cent of whom have either successfully gone back to school or have found employment, some hired on by Starbucks permanently. 

"Over the past decade, our relationship with Starbucks has been really valuable to the youth we serve," says Ingrid Kastens, Executive Director of Pacific Community Resources Society. "As such, we are thrilled to expand this relationship.  Our work-placement relationship with Starbucks Canada supports youth in overcoming many challenges while they gain a meaningful work experience with a great employer.  Starbucks staff have been incredibly supportive of young people, welcoming them into their stores and assisting them as they transition to successful employment and contributing citizens."

Beginning late summer, Starbucks will expand its current work placement program with PCRS to include Wood's Homes in Calgary and The Yonge Street Mission in Toronto.  Wood's Homes, a large not‐for‐profit Children's Mental Health Centre in Calgary, will offer paid Starbucks work-placement to youth enrolled in its Culinary Arts program, which prepares at-risk or homeless youth for employment in the culinary field. The Yonge Street Mission, a community service agency serving thousands of Toronto's poor and vulnerable since 1896, will offer paid Starbucks work-placements to street involved and homeless youth through its Employment Services' Connecting Youth to Work program.  

"The goal of our youth employment program is to give vulnerable young people a fair chance at securing meaningful jobs," says Wood's Homes Director Dean Soenen. "We are thrilled with the opportunity to work with Starbucks Canada in meeting this goal together. Wood's Homes believes that youth at risk of living on the street due to a variety of challenges, deserve opportunities to build better life and job skills. We thank Starbucks Canada for appreciating the importance of community support – joining in our commitment to serve the children, adolescents and families in our community."

Gail Meats, Director of Employment Services at The Yonge Street Mission, says.   "The demand from our youth to access work-placements far exceeds space. This collaboration with Starbucks Canada will help break down the barriers for street involved youth to gain employability skills and invaluable work experience that will prepare them for future employment and life success."

Starbucks Canada is proud to be named Top Ideal Employer in Canada by undergraduate students in the 2014 Universum Student Survey as well as one of Canada's Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for the fourth consecutive year.

For more information, please visit www.starbucks.ca.  

About Starbucks Corporation

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high quality arabica coffee.  Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at www.starbucks.ca.

About Pacific Resources Community Society

Pacific Community Resources is an award winning, accredited, not-for-profit society serving Lower Mainland communities since 1984.  The agency provides alternate education, employment, addiction counselling and prevention services, housing support, and cultural enrichment for children, youth, adults and families. Pacific Community Resources is committed to community-based research, advocacy, and community development to identify service gaps and strategies to address social problems such as poverty, child abuse, mental health, substance abuse, violence and homelessness. For more information, please visit www.pcrs.ca

About Wood's Homes

Wood's Homes is a multi-service, nationally recognized children's mental health centre based in Calgary.  It provides 35+ programs and services in six locations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. A non-profit, Wood's Homes staff of 400 works with more than 20,000 vulnerable children, youth and families every year from across Canada.  Founded by Reverend George Wood, the organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  For more information, please visit www.woodshomes.ca.  

About The Yonge Street Mission

Since 1896, YSM has provided emergency help and fostered long-term change for thousands of individuals and families and in the community itself. The Yonge Street Mission has introduced many innovations in outreach, housing, education, health care, and education. A trusted leader in our neighbourhoods, we are also partners with numerous organizations and public agencies. For more information, please visit www.ysm.ca

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i Labour Force Survey, May 2014, Statistics Canada

SOURCE Starbucks Coffee Canada

For further information: Media contact: Carly Suppa, Starbucks Canada, csuppa@starbucks.com