Will It Work?
The Starbucks Create Jobs USA program does sound complicated and remember, if your CDFI isn’t in a low-income community, forget about applying for any Starbucks donated dollars. OPN wants you to join no matter what, however, and pay your dues because you just never, ever know if your community will suddenly be qualified as “low-income."
OFN says most awards will be in the $500,000 dollar range; however, there are some stips to that too. If your CDFI funds 25% or less into the community, you probably won’t get any Starbucks money as these awards are made on a case-by-case basis, which when translated means—you don’t qualify.
In addition, there is that teeny, tiny requirement of the entire program, “distressed and depressed." What community isn’t right? On the other hand, your community may not be as distressed and depressed as you think it is, even if Intel just closed down or an automaker recently closed up shop. It’s all up to meeting or exceeding the criteria, and if a CDFI doesn’t qualify, no matter how many cups of Joe you purchase and how many $5 bucks you donate, don’t expect a grant for your business to create a job or use the funds to keep people employed because it’s not going to happen.
Like other grant programs, I’m sure the business applying to their local CDFIs will also have to qualify. Is the business trustworthy, profitable and does it have good cash flow management? Of course it doesn’t, that’s why it needs money from Starbucks, and it’s not going to get money if it couldn’t seem to manage the cash it initially had.
No CDFI is going to invest in a business that is failing or on its way out—that’s the truth plain and simple—and if you’ve ever applied for an SBA loan or even a regular bank loan to help fund your business, you know the process is as invasive as a pesky paper cut!
I’d like to think this program will work, but it’s too early to tell. I'd like to monitor it and update this piece so check back as awards will be reviewed in late December and then the CDFI who wins them can dish ‘em out to those who meet their qualifications. I’ll also report on who is winning when it comes to awards. I’d like to report on the losers who have applied for funds but I’m not sure that data will be available. Well maybe some grouchy CDFI will write a blog post once denied—we all must wait and see!
What do you think? Is this a good idea and will it work? Alternatively, is it just another scheme by Starbucks to get people to buy more cups of coffee? I really don’t need a wristband that is red, white and blue and says “indivisible" on it so I’ll probably skip donating $5 to the cause, but don’t let that stop you if indeed you think the real victories will be seen on the unemployment lines.