SEATTLE, WA (September 15, 2020) – The Schultz Family Foundation, founded by former Starbucks ceo and chairman emeritus Howard Schultz and his wife Sheri Schultz, today joined Serve Washington to announce the creation of the Washington COVID Response Corps. The youth service corps, which is the first of its kind in the nation created in response to the pandemic, will deploy 100 AmeriCorps members between the ages of 17-25 during the coming year to assist community non-profits focused on alleviating food insecurity in Washington State.
COVID-19 has caused economic and logistical disruptions that have led to unprecedented levels of food insecurity throughout the country and across Washington State. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the number of people relying on food assistance has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic to more than 2.2 million people. The University of Washington estimates 30 percent of households in the state are food insecure and that people of color are 1.5 times more likely to be food insecure than white people.
At the same time, the economic downturn and interruptions to postsecondary education and the workforce resulting from the pandemic have left many young people in need of meaningful opportunities during the coming year. According to a survey by SimpsonScarborough, up to 40 percent of incoming freshmen said they are unlikely to attend college this fall. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national youth unemployment rate was 18.5 percent in July 2020, which is approximately twice as high as the year prior. National unemployment rates for young people of color are even higher: 25.4 percent for Blacks, 25.4 percent for Asians and 21.7 percent for Hispanics. According to Mathematica, youth unemployment rates in the greater Seattle area nearly tripled from 6.6 percent before COVID-19 to 18.3 percent this summer.
The Washington COVID Response Corps has a unique opportunity to address both challenges through service by building the capacity of local non-profits, while also creating opportunities for young people from diverse racial, ethnic and financial backgrounds. AmeriCorps members who are part of the Washington COVID Response Corps will serve at community non-profits on projects focused on alleviating food insecurity. Their responsibilities will include supporting food packing and distribution at food banks, managing and serving in meal distribution sites at schools, delivering food to the elderly and people with disabilities, providing food access to vulnerable populations, and cultivating and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from community gardens.
The partnership between the Schultz Family Foundation and Serve Washington, a state commission that coordinates service efforts, combines AmeriCorps’ existing funding and programmatic infrastructure with philanthropic investment. As a part of the partnership, the Schultz Family Foundation is underwriting a portion of the match contributions for AmeriCorps members at organizations that have both financial difficulty and a willingness to join the coordinated one-year COVID relief program. The Schultz Family Foundation is also offering resources to support training and development for young people who participate, as well as access to financial assistance to address unforeseen emergencies for members serving in AmeriCorps.
Young people interested in applying for the Washington COVID Response Corps can visit www.CovidResponseCorps.org to find an AmeriCorps program in their local community. Programs plan to select members by October 15, 2020 so members can participate in the AmeriCorps Swearing-in Ceremony on October 30, 2020. Participating organizations that are recruiting Washington COVID Response Corps members at confirmed host sites include:
- Washington Service Corps – Employment Security Department (Statewide):, Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington, Des Moines Area Food Bank, Emergency Food Network, Friends of François dba For All, Lynnwood Food Bank, North Helpline, North Kitsap Fishline, Nourish Pierce County, Plateau Outreach Ministries, Port Angeles Food Bank, Puget Sound Labor Agency, SHARE Vancouver, Sky Valley Food Bank, South King County Food Coalition, South Whidbey Good Cheer, Sunrise Outreach Center, Tukwila Pantry, United Way of King County, Upper Valley MEND, and West Seattle Food Bank.
- LISC AmeriCorps Program – Local Initiatives Support Corporations (King, Pierce and Yakima Counties): Organic Sac Lunch and Rainier Beach Action Coalition, along with others host sties to be confirmed in the near future.
- Common Threads – Common Threads Farm (Whatcom County): Multiple school districts, food banks, and affordable housing complexes in Whatcom County.
- Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network – Life Works (Cowlitz County): Host sites to be confirmed in the near future.
- “Millions of families are struggling to put food on the table as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a generation of young people’s lives are being disrupted due to the economic downturn and interruptions to postsecondary education and the workforce. The Washington COVID Response Corps is designed to create meaningful service opportunities accessible to youth from diverse racial, ethnic and financial backgrounds to address the food insecurity crisis in our state,” said Schultz Family Foundation chair Sheri Schultz.
- “COVID-19, and now wildfires, have presented Washington families with many significant challenges, including food insecurity. I’m very appreciative of the work of AmeriCorps members across the state and this investment by the Schultz Family Foundation will help increase our AmeriCorps response to food insecurity,” said Governor Jay Inslee.
- “The Washington COVID Response Corps is a first-of-its-kind program that creates service opportunities for young people from diverse racial, ethnic and financial backgrounds to address community needs resulting from the pandemic. We are proud to have developed an innovative model that combines federal and state government resources with private philanthropy to help people who are struggling in these difficult times,” said Schultz Family Foundation president Tyra Mariani.
- “What I’m most excited about is the way the Schultz Family Foundation is investing in the AmeriCorps members’ development with additional training resources, a higher living allowance and an emergency assistance fund. We couldn’t ask for a better partner to invest in service as a strategy and understanding that investment includes robust support for the AmeriCorps members serving,” said Serve Washington executive director Amber Martin-Jahn.
- “It’s imperative during this time of great need that we come together in community to help families and children facing food insecurity in Washington State. Partnering food-focused non-profits with AmeriCorps and private philanthropy groups creates a trifecta of distribution, funding and labor that will increase access to food for statewide food banks, meal programs and schools. Northwest Harvest is proud to be a partner in this effort and a beneficiary of the additional hands-on support this will afford us and our partners during the 2020-21 academic year,” said Northwest Harvest chief executive officer Thomas Reynolds.
About the Schultz Family Foundation
The Schultz Family Foundation, established in 1996 by Howard and Sheri Schultz, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success, including youth and post-9/11 veterans. The Foundation invests in innovative solutions and partnerships that unlock people’s potential, and strengthen our businesses, our communities, and our nation. For more information about the Foundation and its work: schultzfamilyfoundation.org.
About Serve Washington
Serve Washington, a State Commission, advances national service, volunteerism and civic engagement to improve lives; expands opportunity to meet the local critical needs of residents of Washington; and strengthens community capacity while creating healthy and resilient communities. Authorized by Executive Order #16-08, a 20-member board of Governor- appointed commissioners supports and advises Serve Washington. Learn more at servewashington.wa.gov.
About AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service
This AmeriCorps funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, civic engagement, and national service programs. For over 25 years, more than 1 million dedicated Americans have joined AmeriCorps and pledged to ‘get things done.’ This year, the 75,000 AmeriCorps members serving in schools, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, will do the same as they rebuild communities, support veterans, fight the opioid epidemic, prepare students for success, foster economic opportunity, and more. Those interested in serving can learn more at AmeriCorps.gov/Join.