[cuppa joe]
The Human Connection
Partnership between Starbucks and USD promises to improve student life

Mmmm. Coffee. The bean’s fragrant aroma wafts across college campuses nationwide, but this fall, there’s more to that cup of java than just a yummy mental jumpstart. Starbucks, the world’s leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world, has joined forces with four prominent universities — including the University of San Diego — to launch a pilot program aimed at improving corporate support of college students both academically and socially.

It’s a joint enterprise with a natural fit. After all, whether it’s a cup of coffee, a place to study, a part-time job or a career, Starbucks has a whole lot to offer the average college student. “The spirit of the partnership is about creating opportunities for human connection between Starbucks and the students,” says Starbucks’ channel manager for colleges and universities, Carolyn Reynolds.

The benefits to students include a variety of projects designed to be consistent with and beneficial to USD’s and Starbucks’ respective strategic missions, including sponsorship of a multi-school beach cleanup event in mid-November.

“The University of San Diego’s mission and strategic priorities allow us to think creatively when responding to students’ needs,” says Carmen Vasquez, USD’s vice president of student affairs. “Realizing that our missions complement one another, we were able to develop a partnership which embodies three equally important elements: student life, academic life and community life.”

Step one, of course, is getting the word out. Toward that end, the company has provided the campus with 1,500 free $5 gift certificates, to be distributed to students who’ve completed an alcohol education questionnaire. “But this partnership isn’t just about money,” says Louise Stanger, director of alcohol and drug education services. “It’s about changing the campus itself.”

In addition to treating students to a free cup of joe, Starbucks has vowed to work with Associated Students on events like orientation and community service-learning activities such as fair-trade workshops. On the academic side of the house, the company will work with the School of Business to create curriculum and case studies for classroom use as well as participate in major academic conferences. Other aspects of the partnership include Starbucks’ support in USD’s career fairs, a pledge to hire part-time student workers in area stores and a summer internship opportunity at the Starbucks corporate support center in Seattle.

“USD is very grateful to have been selected by Starbucks for this unprecedented partnership,” says Vasquez. “Our students and community members will benefit tremendously from the knowledge, experience and opportunities that it will provide.”