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National Restaurant Association - Starbucks’ jobs fund brews success

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Starbucks’ jobs fund brews success

The National Restaurant Association congratulated Starbucks Coffee Company on the success of its national jobs fund program, which has raised more than $1.5 million in donations since it debuted last November.

The program, called "Create Jobs for USA," was developed by Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz in partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network, a network of community development financial institutions that invests in small businesses in order to jumpstart employment throughout America. Schultz launched the program with a $5 million donation from the Starbucks Foundation at the end of 2011 when the national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent. It currently hovers at 8.6 percent.

In order to fund the jobs plan, Starbucks has asked its customers to donate $5 or more to the fund. Those who make donations receive a red, white and blue wristband inscribed with the word "Indivisible" on its face. Additionally, more than 150 business leaders have made contributions to the jobs initiative.

"It's inspiring to see Americans coming together to play a role in helping create and sustain jobs," Schultz said in a written statement. "Since launching this initiative, concerned citizens are ... helping Americans [get] back to work."

The company noted that the program and the pledges made to it "would not by themselves turn [the] country around, but, rather, were designed to be catalysts for change that serve as an inspiration and example to others of the kind of leadership and courage [the] country needs at this critical time."

Schultz said he is optimistic that the public's positive response to the program will continue through 2012.

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said the jobs plan's success is indicative of the industry's support and commitment to job growth.

"The innovation shown by Starbucks and the generosity of its customers is very familiar to those of us in the restaurant industry," Sweeney said. "Restaurants across America serve as cornerstones of their communities and often step in with a helping hand. The unique focus of this program in addressing the need for small businesses to have access to financial assistance makes it a real standout. As an industry, we are very aware that small businesses are essential to getting more people back to work."

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