LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Call it coffee with a conscience.

Starbucks announced a new initiative on Tuesday that includes a plan to share profits from a local store in Crenshaw with the Los Angeles Urban League.

The company says it wants to create a model for how businesses can become better corporate stewards in socially and economically depressed neighborhoods.

Starbucks is also launching a similar venture with Abyssinian Development Corp. at a cafe in Harlem, where the announcement was made Tuesday morning.

“Starbucks is partnering with two organizations doing heroic work to address the economic, social and education challenges in their communities,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said. “These two partnerships are intended to help us learn how our company can successfully join with change-making community organizations in a localized, coordinated and replicable way.”

Starbucks will give the Urban League $100,000 over the first year and will evaluate how well the initiative worked. The league plans to use the money for youth and education programs at Crenshaw High School, which the league jointly runs with USC and the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation.

The company said it redesigned the stores in South Los Angeles and New York to reflect the culture and needs of the community. Both neighborhoods are historically black.

Starbucks will use the partnership to share business expertise with local residents, participate in community service and find ways for the coffee company to support jobs training and placement.

“Starbucks is taking the lead in very tough economic times,” Los Angeles Urban League president Blair Taylor said. “They fully recognize and appreciate the need for collaboration between forward-thinking organizations from the for profit and nonprofit sectors.”

The store on Crenshaw Boulevard near Coliseum Street opened in 2006. It sits within a 70-block area where the Urban League is engaged in a years-long effort to revitalize the Crenshaw and Park Mesa Heights neighborhoods by focusing on five areas: education, safety, housing, health and employment.

The initiative, which launched in 2007, measures part of its success on trends at Crenshaw High School, where the league says the graduation rate has improved by 51 percent since 2007.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was one of the first supporters of “Neighborhoods at Work” and applauded the new partnership. “I hope this model will attract the imagination and ingenuity of other corporations in Los Angeles and across the nation,” Villaraigosa said. “I strongly encourage other leaders to look for new ways to invigorate communities and transform lives.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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