Would You Like a Revolution With That Latte?

Can Howard Schultz and the Coffee-Drinking Public Solve America’s Jobs Crisis?

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Published on Sep 10, 2012

Go to your neighborhood Starbucks, and right above the biscotti on the counter sits a display of red, white and blue wristbands. Labelled “Create Jobs for USA,” the wristbands sell for the price of a $5 donation to Opportunity Finance Network, the nation’s largest consortium of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Starbucks’ partner in an initiative to fund entrepreneurship in cities across the country. A little less than a year after these wristbands first appeared, more than $11.5 million in donations has gone to support projects — like an affordable housing development in Baltimore or a mom-and-pop bakery in Kansas City — that are mostly agreeable to people of all political stripes. Yet no matter how benign the program’s intent, its mission hurtles Howard Schultz, the man who brought the latte to Middle America, smack dab in the middle of the decade’s trickiest political conundrum. Journalist Mark Bergen provides a critical appraisal of Schultz’s effort to create his own brand of crowd-funded economic stimulus and examines its impacts on Capitol Hill, in Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters and in the communities this program intends to benefit.

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