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Starbucks launches multi-company youth-employment coalition

More than a dozen U.S.-based companies, led by Starbucks Corp., have founded the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative,” a coalition with the goal to hire and train more than 100,000 teens and young adults who face “systemic barriers” to education and jobs by 2018, initiative participants said.

Taco Bell Corp. and Potbelly Corp., in addition to foodservice provider HMS Host, are among the employers involved. Other participants include a variety of major retailers, airlines and hospitality companies, such as Walmart, Porch.com, Macy’s, Target and JPMorgan Chase.

“By using our scale to create pathways to affordable education and meaningful employment for these young men and women, we’re strengthening both our workforce and our economy,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. “As business leaders, I believe we have a critical role to play in hiring more Opportunity Youth and offering these young people excellent training and the chance to dream big and reach their aspirations.”

In the U.S., 3.5 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school and unemployed, according to the coalition, which sees this pool of potential employees as a strong resource to fill “middle-skill jobs” that do not require a four-year college degree. Starbucks, in particular, has expressed plans to engage this segment and earlier this year committed to hiring at least 10,000 so-called “Opportunity Youth” during the next three years.

The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative will kick off with an Opportunity Fair & Forum held in Chicago on Aug. 13, where the participating companies expect to train more than 2,000 teens and young adults, and offer more than 200 jobs on the spot.

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