Starbucks Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Through its global development grantmaking, the Starbucks Foundation prioritizes fostering job opportunities for young people; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and local community development.

IP TAKE: This foundation makes many annual grants, so it is easy to go unnoticed. Grant seekers whose works considers several Starbucks key areas may have a better chance of attracting its funding attention than those that are addressing a single problem.

OVERVIEW: Established in 1997, the Starbucks Foundation began its philanthropic endeavors by funding literacy programs in the U.S. and Canada. Since then, its giving has grown exponentially to support projects around the world. The foundation prioritizes giving through four areas of programmatic interest: Opportunity for Youth, Community Service, Supporting Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa Communities, and Access to Clean Water.

The foundation’s Opportunity for Youth program seeks to aid the world’s nearly 300-million-youth to obtain the skills necessary to “[s]ucceed in the rapidly changing global economy." Starbucks’ Community Service program has the same youth-centered focus, supporting projects that closely align with its commitment to disengaged and disconnected young people around the globe. The overall goal of the program is to “create positive change in local neighborhoods.”

In contrast, the foundation's Supporting Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa Communities adopts a broader approach in its grantmaking. This program seeks to support the farming communities on which the company depends. To those ends, the foundation backs efforts in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in water-stressed coffee growing communities. This program also awards grants to education, nutrition, and community health groups working in developing countries.

Beyond its grantmaking to coffee, tea, and cocoa communities, the foundation’s Access to Clean Water program largely revolves around its Ethos Water Fund. What originally began as a “social venture startup” providing people in developing countries with access to clean water has become a central grantmaking vehicle for the foundation. Access to Clean Water grants are few, but significant and range from about $300,000 to over $1 million.

For its more sizable grants, Starbucks tends to partner with sizable global development NGOs such as Mercy Corps and Heifer International. Smaller outfits don’t receive grants anywhere near the size of those the large groups receive. It seems like the foundation is going for quantity, here, by supporting a substantial number of NGOs with small grants in the $1,000 to $20,000 range. Grants are made by invitation only.


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