When two young African-Americans were arrested in a Starbucks on April 12th, 2018, for not placing an order, the company committed to closing all 8,000 stores in the United States for an afternoon of conversation on racial equity and inclusion. The national conversation was designed by SYPartners in close collaboration with Starbucks’ leadership and the Perception Institute, with advisement from the NAACP and Demos. 130,000 Starbucks partners participated in what is likely the largest simultanious conversation on race and bias in history.

As a member of the 24-person team at SYPartners that designed the conversations, I helped draft a first take on what the 4-hour in-store experience could look like from beginning to end. I also worked with strategists to implement expert input from the Perception Institute on activities that would ethically address racial bias while honoring the self-directed nature of the gatherings.

All materials, including a 68-page team workbook, personal reflection journals, and an hour of video content featuring businesswoman Mellody Hobson and rapper Common, as well as a short documentary from Stanley Nelson, were created in 3 weeks for distribution to stores in time for the May 29th conversation.

Read Starbucks’ account of the work See the training materials Press: New York Times Press: This American Life Report: Demos and NAACP

Photos photos by Josh Trujillo / Starbucks Newsroom