The push by Schultz, who has been outspoken in his call to shareholders about the need for the coffee company to embrace social responsibility, comes after a pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and the expansion this year of a company program that pays employees' tuition toward an online degree at Arizona State University. Schultz also made a short-lived push this year for Starbucks baristas to engage customers in a dialogue about race relations.
Schultz has long been concerned about the dearth of opportunity in huge swaths of America. He grew up in a Brooklyn housing project but saw his fortunes change after earning a football scholarship to Northern Michigan University.
The plight of the young and poor — particularly people of color — was made more difficult by the Great Recession, when teenagers and young adults found themselves competing for jobs against adults and college graduates who were settling for positions below their skill level. At the national level, 22% of blacks, 20% of Native Americans, 16% of Latinos, 11% of whites and 8% of Asian Americans fall into the category of disconnected youth, according to a study published last month by the policy group Social Science Research Council.
Though the situation has shown modest improvement since 2010, the peak year for youth disconnection over the past decade, the job prospects for many young people remain grim. One in seven young people neither work nor go to school. This group of Americans is roughly the size of Minnesota's population.
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Martin Drell, who heads the infant, child and adolescent psychiatry division at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, said the post-recession malaise causes an enormous strain on the psyche of low-income Americans.
"There were always people who never made the American Dream, but what is happening now is the American Dream is getting more difficult to fathom for young people at the bottom layers of socioeconomic status," Drell said.
The coalition will host a jobs fair in Chicago on Aug. 13, the first of what Schultz expects to be many across the USA. Schultz recruited actor and rap artist Common, a Chicago-native, to lead a discussion with about 2,000 young people expected to attend the first fair. The companies have set a goal of making 1,000 hires — including 200 on-the-spot job hires — from young people who attend the Chicago fair.
"I believe in the talent that lies within our young people, and I know that when we give them a real chance, they will achieve and soar," Common said in a statement.
To launch its first hiring burst in the campaign, the coalition chose a city where the plight of disconnected youth has been on the forefront of policymakers' agendas.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave funding priority to youth jobs and training programs and an initiative to make community college free for any student who graduates from the city's public schools with at least a B average even as the city faces mounting budgetary challenges.