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Starbucks commits to helping solve region’s homeless crisis

SEATTLE, Wash.-- Starbucks wants to deliver on more than just your coffee needs.

During the company's shareholders meeting in Seattle, Starbucks announced a commitment to solving our region's homeless crisis.

Over the last two winters, Starbucks has helped raise more than $6 million to support Mary’s Place Emergency Shelter for Families, helping bring 2,000 family members inside out of the cold.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson telling the crowd of thousands, "To have children in our own community, through no fault of their own sleeping outdoors, is unacceptable."

Over the next year, Starbucks hopes to build on that. It's calling for a “surge” to end family homelessness in Seattle.

That will include:

  • Hosting a summit focused on solving the emergency shelter crisis
  • Partnering with the United Way of King County and Mary’s Place  to host four events to provide services to families in need
  • Working with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to focus public resources
  • Partnering with Pearl Jam to raise awareness of unsheltered families at the band's benefit concert in Seattle this August

"Families are homeless for the shortest amount of time," says John Kelly, Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs & Social Impact for Starbucks. "Ninety-seven percent of them are homeless only once. This is solvable. We can do it."

Starbucks also committed to 100 percent gender pay equity at all of it's locations around the world. The company says it has achieved 100 percent pay equity for women and men, and for people of all races performing work here in the U.S.

Not everyone at McCaw Hall in Seattle was celebrating Starbucks. Protesters, some in Starbucks-cup costumes, others covered in disposable coffee cups, say they delivered a petition with 973,000 signatures, calling on Starbucks to create 100 percent recyclable cups. They say Starbucks cups are lined with plastic and much of it ends up in our oceans.

Starbucks says creating a fully recyclable coffee cup that is safe for hot liquids has been a real challenge, but it's a top priority.

It just announced it's dedicating $10 million, creating what's being called the "NextGen Cup Challenge." It's a contest, asking for others to come up more sustainable cup solutions.