New Baltimore Starbucks Part Of National Effort To Support Underserved Communities

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new Starbucks opening in East Baltimore has a lot more than coffee brewing.

It will serve a blend of opportunity for locals, and investment in the community.

“It shows that Starbucks knows its audience,” says Keshia Thomas, the new store’s manager. “It knows that there’s a community in need and they have a responsibility.”

The Ashland Avenue store is only the fifth of its kind in the U.S., meant to create job opportunities for young people and support economic development in underserved communities.

When it opens to the public Friday, it will join the ranks of locations already open in Ferguson, Missouri, Englewood in Chicago’s Southside, central Phoenix, Arizona and Jamaica in Queens, New York.

“It is partly that human intelligence, that human connection that we want to teach the young people,” says Rodney Hines, director of social impact for Starbucks. “And I think that’s fundamental skills the young people can have that they can in any job, any role.”

Starbucks plans to open similar stores in at least 15 communities across the U.S. by next year.

The Baltimore shop is partnering up with Baltimore’s Choice Program, which fights crime by providing job training for local youth.

Rayshaud Spencer finished the Choice Program and graduated high school.

“The Choice Program is really a life-changer,” he says. “It really changed my life. It’s a good program. The people in there care about you.”

As part of this initiative, Starbucks also tries to work with minority-owned contractors, like Midnite Confection’s Cupcakery.

“A year ago this time, I didn’t think that I would be here,” says employee Kim Ford, who lost her son to street violence. “I didn’t know where I was going to go. And I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

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