Starbucks to launch youth training program in new Jamaica, Queens store

The long-awaited Jamaica, Queens Starbucks is slated to open Tuesday as part of an initiative to hire and train local youth who are not in school.

The Jamaica Starbucks is the first of its kind to offer such a program and is part of a wider goal to reach 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 nationwide.

Employees and community leaders, including Queens Borough president Melinda Katz, attended the unveiling of the store at 89th Street and Sutphin Boulevard on Monday, one day before the grand opening.

“By making a long-term investment in the form of new stores, we hope to play a meaningful role in supporting ongoing efforts to transform these vibrant communities,” said Rodney Hines, director of community investments for Starbucks, in a statement on Monday.

The youth training program will operate in partnership with the Queens Connect Collaborative and YMCA’s Y Roads Center, both of which will help recruit youth for the store.

“This youth opportunity center, we are so excited (about) because you’re not only bringing a great corporate citizen but you’re also educating our children,” Katz said. “This is a prototype for the rest of the nation.”

But despite the fanfare, none of the employees present during the unveiling were hired as part of the youth outreach program, most had found their way into the world of lavish coffee brewing on their own. Hines said that the program will begin recruiting next month.

A representative from Queens Community House, Ben Thomases, said that QCH will attempt to place troubled youth into the program.

Some locals that passed by the Starbucks during the unveiling on Monday attempted to enter the store but were denied by the staff who asked them to return the next day.

“The neighborhood is changing, we need more stores like that in the area,” said Denice Rice, 61, an auditor and lifelong resident of Jamaica, Queens resident who welcomed the store. “Why should everything nice be in Manhattan or Astoria?” she added.