The Starbucks Foundation Invests $145,000 in Grants to Support Local Communities across Canada

Map of Canada with icons showing the greatest needs across the country

As Starbucks continues to navigate COVID-19, the company is focused on caring for the health and well-being of partners (employees) and customers, and doing its part to support the communities it serves.

Starbucks contributions during COVID-19

To build on its contributions toward COVID-19 community response to date, The Starbucks Foundation has selected more than 400 organizations across Canada and the U.S. to receive grants in its third round of Neighbourhood Grants. These grants, which total $1.4 million, were informed and inspired by Starbucks partners who highlighted the causes and organizations uplifting their communities during COVID-19.

In Canada, we heard from our partners about how hunger relief, supporting families and children, and addressing homelessness are top of mind. Thanks to nearly 400 partner nominations, $145,000 in grants are being distributed to 56 local organizations across the country. 

Map of Canada showing where Starbucks Neighbourhood Grants have been distributed

Neighbourhood Grants are intended to strengthen the community around our stores, inspire increased partner volunteerism and create sustained engagement with local communities. Through this initiative, The Starbucks Foundation engages partners to share insights from their own communities to help inform grant decisions.

We empower our partners to make a difference in the communities they love and serve every day. Below, five partners share the causes that are close to their hearts and how the Neighbourhood Grants will make an impact as organizations respond to COVID-19.

The Soup Haven Lunch Program — Yorkton, Sask.

The Soup Haven Lunch Program is dedicated to serving healthy lunches free of charge to children in need at local schools. In response to COVID-19, the non-profit has organized three locations in Yorkton, Sask. where people can pick up lunches for their children on weekdays. 

Store manager Bobby Holstein used to rely on lunches from The Soup Haven whenever the rural farm he grew up on experienced week-long power outages.

“When this happened, I would receive food items from school provided by The Soup Haven Lunch Program. During elementary school, I also spent my mornings, lunch hour and after-school time volunteering in our community school kitchen, which received donations from The Soup Haven. Since then, my volunteer time and partnership with them has given me many opportunities to strengthen my skills, lead cooking groups, earn volunteer awards and even land my first job! It is very special to be able to nominate an organization that has impacted my own life.”

Marilyn Dyck at Soup Haven
Program director Marilyn Dyck at Soup Haven

How the grant will help: “We will use this grant to continue providing lunches for children, as well as hampers for families in need. We anticipate this need to grow in the future,” said program director Marilyn Dyck. “We really appreciate The Starbucks Foundation’s support in this unprecedented time. We are thankful that Starbucks is part of our community!” 

Batshaw Youth And Family Centres Foundation — Montreal, Que.

Batshaw Youth and Family Centres Foundation is a grassroots organization with the mission to break the cycle of abuse and neglect experienced by many children and youth.

Store manager Cassidy Vanderveen experienced homelessness as a youth, which is why she strongly believes in the mission of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres.

“Homelessness doesn't always look like we think it does. I left home when I was 13 and never went back. If I had had an organization like Batshaw Youth and Family Centres to go to, I strongly believe a lot of things in my life wouldn't have been so traumatizing. I learned survival skills when I was homeless, but survival skills don't eventually lead to a full life. A lot of kids give up and it's so important that organizations like Batshaw are there so they don't. Batshaw gives people the tools and resources they need to function in society. If we invest in places like the Batshaw Centre, I strongly feel it would reduce homeless adults because they would have gotten the support they needed earlier in life. When we take care of our most vulnerable, we take care of our society as a whole.”

How the grant will help: “The funds received will be distributed directly to the specific needs of a family or child, through a dedicated social worker,” said Wendy Khan, director of development. “It will also provide families with groceries, pharmaceuticals, or other emergency supplies to help them get through this extremely challenging time. Sometimes, financial support can keep families together and prevent children from being placed in the foster system.”

The 519 — Toronto, Ont.

The 519 is a City of Toronto agency, a registered charity, and Canada’s prominent LGBTQ2S Community Centre. The 519 strives to make a real difference in people’s lives by delivering essential services for the most vulnerable and marginalized, and leading advocacy, anti-violence, and access to justice initiatives. During COVID-19, The 519 mobilized to transform its operations to continue to provide critical services with a focus on food security, mental health and social isolation, clothing, harm reduction, counselling, settlement, referral and other support services.

According to district manager Levi Parker-Styles, The 519 “saved his life,” so he wanted to recognize them by nominating them for a grant.

“I had always feared sexual health, due to the uncertainty of living my life as a gay male. I knew I had an obligation to be regularly tested, but there was always a sense of fear — fear of judgement, fear of misinformation... When I mustered up the courage to go to The 519 to get tested, I learned I was HIV positive. In an instant, my world shattered; I felt empty. But the care and support I was provided was incredible, from the nurse that took my sample to the help I received seeking mental health resources. Today I live my life as a healthy individual because of their care and concern for me as a human being. I am thriving today because they saw me as a person who needed help, and I am forever indebted.”

How the grant will help: “The grant will directly help our essential services work to support our community’s most marginalized and vulnerable,” said Stacy Kelly, director of philanthropy. “Our sincerest thanks to The Starbucks Foundation and Starbucks Canada. Our ongoing COVID-19 response is largely unfunded, and we are relying on and are so grateful for the continued support of individuals, organizations, and companies who are answering our call to help us ensure no one is left behind.”

Girl Guides of Canada - Alberta — Cochrane, Alta.

Girl Guides of Canada provides a safe environment for girls and women to feel a sense of belonging. The organization empowers girls to find their voice, build friendships, and make a difference in the world. 

A Girl Guides sash that belongs to Marianne Spring's daughter.
A Girl Guides sash that belongs to Marianne Spring's daughter.

Store manager Marianne Spring has fond memories of being a Girl Guide as a child and attending weekly Brownie meetings. She now volunteers with the organization and has also enrolled her daughter. 

“As a mother to an only child, one of the biggest challenges I have faced during this pandemic is issues with social development and maintaining friendships. My six-year-old daughter struggled with social connection at school and feels connected to her fellow Girl Guides. Other families in my community are experiencing the same challenges. Girl Guides gives our girls a sense of normalcy and pride in accomplishment, and they’ve been hosting weekly virtual campfires to bring our girls together.

As a volunteer, I have also found friendships within my community with other moms who share my passion for female leadership and growth. Providing Canadians a support structure like this, especially now, is so important to maintaining mental health.”

How the grant will help: “In this time of COVID-19 where we have switched to online programming, the grant will be used to support the delivery of program materials needed by each girl to complete program activities,” said Heather Monahan, the administrative manager at Girl Guides of Canada, Alberta & Saskatchewan Council. “Depending on the unit needing funds, it could be used for craft supplies, science magic, or even online access for members. We are committed to continuing our programs and ensuring that cost is not a deterrent to anyone who wants to join in becoming and staying involved.”

Squamish Helping Hands Society — Squamish, B.C. 

Squamish Helping Hands Society provides food services and safe, reliable emergency shelter to those in Sea-to-Sky communities. Its network of nurses, mental health professionals and case workers also assist people transitioning from homeless to housed. 

District manager Jaime Martins revealed that one of his store managers, Anita Kingston, has been a long-time volunteer advocate of Squamish Helping Hands Society. 

“[Anita] fostered the bridge between our partners and this organization through an annual holiday volunteer event. Since its inception in 2007, our partners have always, as available, participated in this relationship, as well as other partnerships in the community like Hilltop House Support Society (a long-term care facility), Squamish Watershed Society, and the Howe Sound Women’s Centre. In this community, supporting these causes is not just about supporting ‘strangers’ in need. Very often it’s people we know: some are our customers, some friends, and in some cases family members.”

How the grant will help: “The grant will potentially go toward our outreach and food programs, as well as toward our welcome packages as we get ready (in October) to move into our permanent home at Under One Roof,” said executive director Maureen Mackell. “I read a quote recently which says, ‘Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: this is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.’ When Starbucks as a company decides to help out like this in the local communities where they are doing business, they are recognizing that it’s their community too and taking responsibility to make it better. That’s a great way for a company to stand up and be counted.”

thumbnail for 5 things to know about first-ever Starbucks Promises Day

5 things to know about first-ever Starbucks Promises Day