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Champion profile

Alicia Vermaele, executive director of The Starbucks Foundation

For more than a decade, local Starbucks partners (employees) have been engaging with City Year AmeriCorps members and schools in cities across the nation.

From volunteering during the annual MLK Day of Service, to leading workshops, career panels and conversations with AmeriCorps members, the natural connection between The Starbucks Foundation and City Year has been rooted in common organizational values and a shared belief in the power of young people and educational equity.

Building on these local connections and a history of support for programs that create opportunity for young people, in 2020 The Starbucks Foundation and City Year expanded our partnership to deepen and scale our impact nationally.

Investing in diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity work at City Year

Alicia Vermaele, Starbucks, annual report Champion ProfileAlicia Vermaele, executive director of The Starbucks Foundation, reflected on our partnership and synergy with their social impact goals. “In the midst of the racial reckoning of 2020, we were thankful to engage with City Year teams given our ongoing conversations around diversity, belonging, inclusivity and equity (DBIE),” Alicia said. “City Year is a key partner as we aim to create opportunities, provide support and help build bridges to a brighter future for young people around the world. Our partnership has enabled focused impact at the national and local level that will help to strengthen the ecosystem leading to more equitable outcomes for youth, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) youth.”

With generous financial support from The Starbucks Foundation, City Year has advanced its Diversity, Belonging, Equity and Inclusion strategy and implemented locally led DEI events and initiatives at many of City Year’s U.S. sites. This has included establishing its first national Office of Equity, launching the La Silla Fellowship—a leadership development program for City Year staff who identify as BIPOC—and establishing a formal 44-person equity point community in all 29 cities where City Year serves.

A pair of shaking hands create a heart shape with an orange rectangle accent

Explore Know Your Why: A self-paced DBIE workshop that City Year created with Starbucks to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Strengthening community engagement

The Starbucks Foundation is continuing to support City Year’s Diversity, Belonging, Equity and Inclusion strategies, while also promoting strategic community engagement. “Our partnership is a two-way relationship. As Starbucks partners, we’re continuing to learn alongside City Year as we strengthen programs and networks to help uplift young people,” says Alicia. “And while we recognize cash investment is important, we also know just how important it is to build relationships students, youth, schools and community leaders.”

One of Alicia’s favorite examples of meaningful engagement is a series of conversations between Starbucks Partner Networks (employee resource groups) and City Year Detroit. Starbucks Partners, City Year staff and AmeriCorps members met regularly for conversations that leveraged the To Be Welcoming curriculum on Starbucks Global Academy. Together they explored how to address and overcome different types of bias, and shared thoughts on creating a more equitable society. Participants recognized many similarities in approaches between creating safe and welcoming school and store environments.

A pair of shaking hands create a heart shape with an orange rectangle accent

Congratulations to our six City Year sites that were awarded Starbucks Foundation Neighborhood Grants, which are nominated by employees of the coffee company: City Year Denver, City Year Detroit, City Year Memphis, City Year Miami, City Year New York, and City Year Philadelphia. Learn more on Starbucks Stories.

“We are so proud of the many ways that Starbucks partners have engaged in authentic ways and continue to show up with City Year AmeriCorps members in building stronger, more resilient and equitable communities,” says Alicia. “Thank you to the City Year staff and AmeriCorps members for realizing our shared vision and helping the important work of DBIE come to life through human connection.”

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