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ASU, Starbucks partnership goes beyond academics

ASU Arizona State University Starbucks Partnership Partners Community Service
May 07, 2015

ASU freshman Jovanna Figueroa is enrolled in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College with her sights set on a job at the front of high school biology classroom.

She also likes to volunteer, usually finding ways to work with kids or to work in schools.

But when Figueroa saw a flyer on Facebook a few weeks ago to do some conservation-based community service she jumped at the chance.

The task at hand was to turn a vacant lot into a community garden. It turned out to be just down the street from her family’s home in South Phoenix.

“I was very happy because I feel like South Phoenix is one of those areas that is often neglected and overlooked,” Figueroa said.

Sprucing up the lot was a community service project sponsored by Starbucks, and Figueroa, along with nearly 20 other ASU undergraduates, were a part of the team participating in service activities during the company’s annual Global Month of Service.

“I like it so much that they’re working in my community,” Figueroa said, “that it’s helping my community. “

Arizona State University’s academic partnership with Starbucks is becoming well-known. The university has partnered with the coffee retailer to provide online college courses and credits, tuition-free, to all of Starbucks’ partners (the company’s term for it’s employees).

But that isn’t the only way in which the two innovative institutions are teaming up.

In addition to ASU students joining Starbucks’ service project, nearly two-dozen Starbucks partners participated in the 2015 Pat’s Run, the annual memorial race to commemorate the life of Pat Tillman, an ASU grad and Army Ranger who died serving the country in Afghanistan.

Many of those who participated came to the main race in Tempe; others participated in “shadow runs” around Arizona.

“We are thrilled that Starbucks extended its participation with ASU through engagement with Pat’s Run,” said Christine Wilkinson, senior vice president of ASU. “Honoring Pat Tillman’s spirit and legacy in raising funds for veterans and their families to attend higher education matches perfectly with both ASU and Starbucks’ priorities.”

The Pat’s Run and Global Month of Service partnerships between ASU and Starbucks speak to a strong institutional relationship between the two.

They also lay the groundwork for future collaboration on service initiatives that speak to the two institution’s shared desire to take responsibility for the communities in which they inhabit.

The Starbucks project in South Phoenix to build the community garden cleaned up the neighborhood for three nearby schools. Volunteers also built walking paths between them.

For Figueroa, that kind of community impact is invaluable.

“Having south Phoenix get attention from companies like Starbucks is great because there are people realizing that some of these schools … don’t have a lot of resources,” she said. “So having people help out is great.”