Starbucks’ charitable arm, The Starbucks Foundation, is awarding $1 million in neighborhood grants to support racial equality after the death of George Floyd, a black man being detained by a white police officer.
The grants, which were nominated by Starbucks partners with input from civil rights leaders, will go to more than 100 cities and towns across the nation grappling with racial divisions.
The move comes after more than a week of protests, some peaceful and others violent, condemning police brutality following the death of Floyd, the latest in an array of black people to die in police custody in recent years.
Floyd was being detained May 25 by a white Minneapolis officer since charged with murder. The other officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Starbucks, which has invested in communities around the U.S. and the world for decades, tweeted Thursday that it is “committed to being a part of the change.”
“As we all deal with our personal feelings and experiences through this, there are important questions in front of us,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in an open letter. “How can we help each other heal, and how can we contribute to society in a positive and constructive way on the topic of racism and injustice?”
The Starbucks Foundation was created in 1997 to fund efforts including the promotion of opportunities for youth, veterans and refugees as well as for coffee, tea and cocoa growers.
“From our early decision to offer healthcare to part-time workers to our commitment to support diverse hiring and economic development through our community store initiative — we have been dedicated to creating not just opportunity, but equal opportunity,” Starbucks said.
Last week, the foundation selected 400 organizations across North America for its third round of neighborhood grants in response to the devastation created by COVID-19 and the shutdowns ordered to limit its spread.
Along with its donation, the coffeehouse chain held a virtual conversation Saturday with more than 2,000 Starbucks partners and their families about the deaths of Floyd; Ahmaud Arbery, who was running through a neighborhood in Georgia when he was shot; and Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who was gunned down in a late-night police raid of her Kentucky home.
“While we may not have all the answers, we know the path forward requires these courageous conversations with one another,” Johnson said.