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Starbucks Will Pay Some Employees to Volunteer 20 Hours a Week

Starbucks, the popular coffee shop chain, is testing a program where it will allow some of its employees to spend half of their work week volunteering for a local nonprofit and still get paid for their time.

Through a partnership with nonprofit volunteering group Points of Light, Starbucks has selected 36 so-called service fellows that will volunteer their time in the 13 cities where they are based. The initial volunteer period will last for six months and will have the employees spend 20 hours a week at Starbucks and 20 hours a week elsewhere volunteering for a local organization.

The driving reason behind the effort? It’s good for business, the Seattle retailer said. When employees feel connected and engaged in their communities, employees are more likely to stay at Starbucks longer. Conversely, when customers see Starbucks employees helping out in the community, they feel better about buying from the brand.

More than 200 Starbucks employees applied to be part of the program. If everything goes well, a new group—perhaps larger than the 36 chosen for the first—will be selected to participate in 2019.