Montgomery County Council approved the proposed Westbard Sector Plan including Equity One’s Westwood Center

New York, NY, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Equity One, Inc. (NYSE: EQY), an owner, developer, and operator of shopping centers, announced today that the Montgomery County Council approved the proposed Westbard Sector Plan rezoning portions of the Westbard neighborhood, including Equity One’s Westwood Center.

“This has been a long process, and we appreciate the time and hard work the community, planners and the Council have invested in updating the Westbard Sector Plan. The Council’s approval represents a key milestone on the way to full entitlement of our redevelopment plans, which will provide the surrounding neighborhoods with the vibrant core its residents deserve,” said David Lukes, CEO. “The rezoning provides a new density and mix of uses at our portfolio of Westwood properties that is consistent with our long-range redevelopment plans. We will now proceed with our application for the approval of the specific aspects of the project. We hope to ultimately develop high quality retail and housing on the site, work that will lead to the creation of beautiful open space, affordable housing, environmental improvements and jobs, and an exciting range of new retail options. We look forward to the next stage and continuing our work with all stakeholders as we move towards a new mixed-use Westwood that’s modern, convenient and community friendly.”

ABOUT EQUITY ONE, INC.
As of March 31, 2016, the company’s portfolio comprised 123 properties, including 98 retail properties and five non-retail properties totaling approximately 12.2 million square feet of gross leasable area, or GLA, 14 development or redevelopment properties with approximately 3.0 million square feet of GLA, and six land parcels. As of March 31, 2016, the company’s retail occupancy excluding developments and redevelopments was 96.2% and included national, regional and local tenants. Additionally, the company had joint venture interests in six retail properties and two office buildings totaling approximately 1.4 million square feet of GLA.

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain matters discussed by Equity One in this press release constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “might,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “could,” “should,” “believe,” “intend,” “project,” “forecast,” “target,” “plan,” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other variations or comparable terminology. Although Equity One believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that these expectations will be achieved. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include volatility in the capital markets and changes in borrowing rates; changes in macro-economic conditions and the demand for retail space in the markets in which Equity One owns properties; the risks that Equity One may not be able to proceed with or obtain necessary approvals for the redevelopment project or that it may take more time and cost to complete the project or incur costs greater than anticipated; the success of its efforts to identify tenants and demand for the various components of the redevelopment project; changes in key personnel; the effects of natural and other disasters; changes in Equity One’s credit ratings; and other risks, which are described in Equity One’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For additional information:
Matthew Ostrower, EVP and
Chief Financial Officer
410 Park Avenue, Suite 1220
New York, NY 10022
212-796-1760

Shopify Q1-2016: The era of mobile commerce has officially arrived

  • Revenue Grows 95% Year on Year
  • Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) Grows 102% Year on Year
  • Number of Merchants Surpasses 275,000
  • Shopify reports in U.S. dollars and in accordance with U.S. GAAP

Ottawa, Canada, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP)(TSX:SH), the leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses, today announced strong financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.

“The era of mobile commerce has officially arrived:  mobile orders from Shopify merchants surpassed those of desktops in February, and have continued to climb since,” said Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify.  “Mobile is bringing commerce to places it’s never been before, it is making it more social, and we are pushing that forward in a big way.  With our recent integration with Facebook’s new Messenger platform and our acquisition of a leader in mobile messaging for commerce, Kit CRM, we’re making it easier for our merchants to thrive in this new era.”

“Our first quarter delivered a great start to the year,” stated Russ Jones, Shopify’s CFO.  “The strong merchant adds in the quarter, together with GMV once again doubling year on year, highlight the value we bring to merchants of all sizes.  Our unique combination of strengths is clearly meeting a pressing need in commerce right now.”

First-Quarter Financial Highlights

  • Total revenue was $72.7 million, a 95% increase from the first quarter of 2015. Within this, Subscription Solutions revenue grew 73% to $38.7 million, primarily driven by an increase in the number of merchants using our platform; and Merchant Solutions revenue grew 127% to $34.0 million, driven primarily by an increase in revenue from Shopify Payments.
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue1 (“MRR”) as of March 31, 2016 was $12.8 million, up 73% compared with $7.4 million on March 31, 2015.
  • Gross Merchandise Volume2 (“GMV”) for the first quarter was $2.7 billion, an increase of 102% over the first quarter of 2015.
  • Gross profit grew 82% to $39.3 million for the first quarter of 2016, versus $21.6 million for the first quarter of 2015.
  • Operating loss for the first quarter of 2016 was $9.7 million, compared with an operating loss of $3.5 million for the first quarter of 2015.
  • Adjusted operating loss3 was $5.9 million, compared with $1.5 million for the first quarter of 2015.
  • Net loss was $8.9 million, or $0.11 per share, compared with $4.5 million, or $0.12 per share, for the first quarter of 2015.
  • Adjusted net loss3 for the first quarter of 2016 was $5.1 million, or $0.06 per share, compared with an adjusted net loss of $2.5 million, or $0.06 per share, for the first quarter of 2015.
  • At March 31, 2016, Shopify had $189.5 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, compared with $190.2 million on December 31, 2015.

First-Quarter Business Highlights

  • Orders on mobile surpassed those on desktop for the first time ever in the first quarter of 2016, as just over 51% of orders exiting the quarter came from mobile devices.  The share of traffic from mobile devices in the quarter was even higher, at 62%.
  • Shopify’s partner ecosystem, a critical component to Shopify’s success, was well represented at Shopify’s first-ever partner conference, Unite, in San Francisco.  More than 650 partners participated in Unite, where we unveiled a number of platform enhancements, including the Sales Channel SDK, which enables partners to use Shopify’s APIs to build out new channels for Shopify merchants.  Houzz, Wanelo and Ebates have already built channels through which Shopify merchants can list and sell.

Since the close of the first quarter, Shopify made several key announcements:

  • Shopify acquired Kit CRM to strengthen our capabilities in messaging and conversational commerce.  Kit’s virtual marketing assistant uniquely interfaces with business owners via messaging to help manage marketing, reporting and other back-office tasks.  A top-rated app in the Shopify app store, Kit helps merchants grow their business by placing targeted ads, posting updates to merchants’ Facebook Pages, and making recommendations based on shop or business activity.
  • Shopify was the first commerce platform to integrate with Facebook’s new Messenger Platform, making it easier for merchants to engage in conversational commerce with their customers.  The integration allows merchants to provide live customer support, automatically send order confirmations, shipping updates, and push notifications all within Facebook Messenger.  Shopify is also developing commerce Bots for Messenger to allow merchants to have more interactive and engaging conversations with customers who opt in for these capabilities.
  • Shopify announced Shopify Capital, offering merchant cash advances to select merchants, which provide them timely access to funds to respond quickly to capital needs for their business.  During the pilot program, merchants used cash advances to buy equipment and inventory, launch new products, hire more employees, and add new channels and products.
  • Shopify expanded same-day shipping options with its integration with Postmates.  Live in over 200 cities across the United States and serviced by over 25,000 couriers, merchants and customers can track purchases from checkout to delivery.

Financial Outlook

The financial outlook that follows constitutes forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws and is based on a number of assumptions and subject to a number of risks. Actual results could vary materially as a result of numerous factors, including certain risk factors, many of which are beyond Shopify’s control. Please see “Forward-looking Statements” below.

In addition to the other assumptions and factors described in this press release, Shopify’s outlook assumes the continuation of growth trends in our industry, our ability to manage our growth effectively and the absence of material changes in our industry or the global economy.  The following statements supersede all prior statements made by Shopify regarding 2016 financial outlook. All numbers provided in this section are approximate.

For the full year 2016, Shopify currently expects:

  • Revenues in the range of $337 million to $347 million
  • GAAP operating loss in the range of $41 million to $47 million
  • Adjusted operating loss3 in the range of $16 million to $22 million, which excludes stock-based compensation expenses and related payroll taxes of $25 million

For the second quarter of 2016, Shopify currently expects:

  • Revenues in the range of $79 million to $81 million
  • GAAP operating loss in the range of $12 million to $13 million
  • Adjusted operating loss3 in the range of $6 million to $7 million, which excludes stock-based compensation expenses and related payroll taxes of $6 million

Quarterly Conference Call

Shopify’s management team will hold a conference call to discuss its first-quarter results today, May 4, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. ET.  The conference call will be webcast on the investor relations section of Shopify’s website at https://investors.shopify.com/events/Events-Presentations/default.aspx.  An archived replay of the webcast will be available following the conclusion of the call.

Shopify’s First-Quarter 2016 Interim Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes and its First-Quarter 2016 Management’s Discussion and Analysis are available on Shopify’s website at www.shopify.com, and will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on EDGAR at www.sec.gov.

About Shopify
Shopify is the leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Merchants use the software to design, set up and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including web, mobile, social media, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up shops.  The platform also provides a merchant with a powerful back-office and a single view of their business.  The Shopify platform was engineered for reliability and scale, making enterprise-level technology available to businesses of all sizes. Shopify currently powers over 275,000 businesses in approximately 150 countries and is trusted by big brands including Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Red Bull, the LA Lakers, the New York Stock Exchange, GoldieBlox, and many more.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

To supplement its consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), Shopify uses certain non-GAAP financial measures to provide additional information in order to assist investors in understanding its financial and operating performance.

Adjusted operating loss, adjusted net loss and adjusted net loss per share are non-GAAP financial measures that exclude the effect of share-based compensation expenses and related payroll taxes as well as sales and use tax.

Management uses non-GAAP financial measures internally for financial and operational decision-making and as a means to evaluate period-to-period comparisons. Shopify believes that these non-GAAP measures provide useful information about operating results, enhance the overall understanding of past financial performance and future prospects, and allow for greater transparency with respect to key metrics used by management in its financial and operational decision making.  Non-GAAP financial measures are not recognized measures for financial statement presentation under US GAAP and do not have standardized meanings, and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other public companies. Such non-GAAP financial measures should be considered as a supplement to, and not as a substitute for, or superior to, the corresponding measures calculated in accordance with GAAP. See the financial tables below for a reconciliation of the non-GAAP measures.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws, including statements regarding Shopify’s financial outlook and future financial performance. Words such as “expects”, “anticipates” and “intends” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements are based on Shopify’s current projections and expectations about future events and financial trends that management believes might affect its financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs, and on certain assumptions and analysis made by Shopify in light of the experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments and other factors management believes are appropriate. These projections, expectations, assumptions and analyses are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, events and achievements to differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Although Shopify believes that the assumptions underlying these forward-looking statements are reasonable, they may prove to be incorrect, and readers cannot be assured that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors, including certain risk factors, many of which are beyond Shopify’s control, including but not limited to: (i) merchant acquisition and retention; (ii) managing our growth; (iii)  our history of losses; (iv)  our limited operating history; (v) our ability to innovate; (vi) a disruption of service or security breach; (vii) payments processed through Shopify Payments; (viii) our reliance on a single supplier to provide the technology we offer through Shopify Payments; (ix)  a breach involving personally identifiable information; (x) serious software errors or defects; (xi) exchange rate fluctuations; (xii) achieving or maintaining data transmission capacity; and (xiii) other one-time events and other important factors disclosed previously and from time to time in Shopify’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the securities commissions or similar securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces or territories of Canada.  The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent Shopify’s expectations as of the date of this news release, or as of the date they are otherwise stated to be made, and subsequent events may cause these expectations to change. Shopify undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

  1. Monthly Recurring Revenue, or MRR, is calculated by multiplying the number of merchants by the average monthly subscription plan fee in effect on the last day of that period and is used by management as a directional indicator of subscription solutions revenue going forward assuming merchants maintain their subscription plan the following month.
  2. Gross Merchandise Volume, or GMV, represents the total dollar value of orders processed on the Shopify platform in the period, net of refunds, and inclusive of shipping and handling, duty and value-added taxes
  3. Please refer to “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release.

To view our detailed results with financial tables download this PDF or visit our investors site.

CONTACT:

INVESTORS:

Katie Keita
Director, Investor Relations
613-241-2828
IR@shopify.com

MEDIA:

Sheryl So
Public Relations Manager
416-238-6705 x 302
press@shopify.com

SOURCE: Shopify

Internationally renowned artist Daniel Buren will clothe the emblematic façade of Fondation Louis Vuitton’s building in colored filters

PARIS, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Color is taking over the Fondation Louis Vuitton. From May 11th, the building designed by Frank Gehry is presenting a temporary work by Daniel Buren,Observatory of Light, an installation that clothes the emblematic façade of the Fondation in colored filters.

With Observatory of Light, the internationally renowned artist Daniel Buren reveals the building in a new light through a play of projections, reflections and transparencies. The 12 “sails” of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, formed by 3,600 pieces of glass, will be covered with bright colors and white and clear stripes. Reflections from the 13 colors will appear both inside and outside the building, constantly changing with the time of day and the season.

“Daniel Buren has designed a grandiose project, pertinent and enchanting, the result of a real dialogue with Frank Gehry and his building. His work responds magnificently to the architecture, in line with his approach, going back to the 1970s, that sees a coming together of colors, transparency and light,” says Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH and President of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Alongside the installation, visitors will have the opportunity to discover the magic of BurenCirque, which will give three exceptional performances in a space opposite the Fondation. A contemporary circus concept created by Daniel Buren with Dan and Fabien Demuynck, BurenCirque invites international talents to interact with features designed by the artist.

Finally, children aged 6 to 10 can join in a workshop – entitled The Light Trap – to discover the installation and its secrets, until the end of August.

Practical information:

BurenCirque, Three Times a Hut, performances on June 2nd, 3rd and 4th at 9 pm.

Bookings and prices: www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr

Workshops for children, from May 28th to August 28th, every Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 to 5 pm.

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Internationally renowned artist Daniel Buren will clothe the emblematic façade of Fondation Louis Vuitton's building in colored filters

© Philippe Guignard / Air Images / Fondation Louis Vuitton

“Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” exhibition runs in Tokyo until June 7

PARIS, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Following the success of the “Voguez, Volez, Voyagez” exhibition, which drew nearly 200,000 visitors at the Grand Palais in Paris, the Louis Vuitton show has traveled to Tokyo, Japan. The thematic exhibition retracing the history of the iconic leathergoods Maison runs until June 7.

As in Paris, visitors to the “Voguez, Volez, Voyagez” exhibition in Tokyo are plunged into the history of the trunk-maker during a  journey in nine chapters that explore the universe of Louis Vuitton and its emblematic trunks. For the Tokyo show, the exhibition also features a chapter dedicated to Japan.

Maison Louis Vuitton and Japan have long held a mutual fascination for one another, nourished from the early decades of the House by the creation of the Monogram by Georges Vuitton, inspired by “mon”, ancestral Japanese family emblems. Gaston-Louis Vuitton, his son, developed a passionate interest in objects from Japanese antiquity. Louis Vuitton was popular among prominent members of modern Japanese society from the late 19th century onwards and opened its first store in Tokyo in 1978, in the same district that is today welcoming the exhibition.

Among the exceptional pieces selected by Olivier Saillard, Director of the Paris Fashion Museum and curator of the exhibition, are a tea ceremony trunk, as well as a Kabuki makeup trunk made for Ebizo XI, the famous traditional Japanese theater actor. Other pieces created through collaborations with artists such as Takashi Murakami and Rei Kawakubo also testify to the rich and deep ties that link Louis Vuitton and Japan.

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“Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” exhibition runs in Tokyo until June 7

“Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” exhibition runs in Tokyo until June 7

Starbucks stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong use a mix of historic and new design elements to enhance the coffee experience

SEATTLE, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Two of the China/Asia Pacific region’s latest store openings showcase Starbucks store design capabilities. These stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong use a mix of historic and new design elements to enhance the coffee experience.

Forging the Past with the Present

The Bangka district is one of the oldest in Taipei and the site of a Starbucks location that opened last month. The store is on the main floor of a traditional-style home built for a local wealthy family – the Lin family clan – in 1932. The Lin residence has a design that combines architectural influences from the east and west. It was recently preserved and is a local landmark that reveals the history of Bangka.

“The concept was to develop a coffee house where the story of the building’s history and the heritage of the Starbucks brand connect to create a harmonious environment,” said Michael Izon, director of Store Design, Starbucks China/Asia Pacific. “We wanted the historical elements of the building to be revealed and discovered by anyone who visits the store.”

The Bangka store’s coffee bar was designed so that the house’s original windows and doors are revealed through protective glass. The experiential bar showcases the ritual of the Siphon and Pour Over brewing methods.

Coffee bean patterns stenciled on columns in the store were inspired by the building’s original wallpaper that still exists in the upper floors of the residence that houses a museum. Delicate embroidery art, on display in the museum, was created by one of the daughters of the Lin family. In honor of this artwork, Starbucks commissioned celebrated Taiwanese embroidery artist, Lily Huang, to craft an anniversary Starbucks Siren that hangs in the store. This artwork celebrates the local history and culture in Taipei and commemorates the 18th Anniversary of Starbucks Taiwan.

“Starbucks is proud to be part of the local communities in which we operate and we have a deep respect for Taiwan’s cultural and historical heritage,” said John Hsu, president of Starbucks Taiwan. “Bangka is one of several stores where we have taken great care to respect the building’s origins while offering customers a beautiful environment where they can enjoy a great cup of coffee.”

The Art of Coffee

Starbucks Cityplaza store in one of Hong Kong’s busiest malls provides customers with an enriched coffee experience. In addition to Starbucks® Reserve coffees, the store is now offering Starbucks® Cold Brew for the first time in Hong Kong. Starbucks Coffee Masters will handcraft coffee using five brewing methods including Cold Brew, Siphon, Pour Over, French Press and Black Eagle.

“Starbucks has been committed to providing customers with an exceptional coffee experience since it first opened its doors 45 years ago in Seattle,” said Norbert Tan, executive director, Starbucks Hong Kong. “Our passion for coffee remains the same, strong passion to this day.”

The interior of the store incorporates artwork created by local artist Niko Leung who designed more than 150 handmade sculptures that pay homage to the coffee brewing methods offered at the Cityplaza store. The sculptures are plaster casts of coffee equipment including tampers, kettles, syphon brewers and espresso portafilters that are mounted on the wall. The effect is a curated yet dynamic installation that shows customers the many ways that coffee can be enjoyed.

“We wanted to create a store that feels open and welcoming for customers and also makes a visually theatrical statement inviting shoppers in to try our premium coffees,” said Izon, director of Starbucks Store Design. “This thinking led us to create the first ‘open kitchen’ Starbucks Reserve Experience Bar concept in Hong Kong, which allows for an intimate connection between partner and customer over coffee.”

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom

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Starbucks stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong use a mix of historic and new design elements to enhance the coffee experience

Starbucks stores in Taiwan and Hong Kong use a mix of historic and new design elements to enhance the coffee experience

Starbucks partners share their college journey

SEATTLE, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Starbucks partners are known for the skillful way they handcraft beverages and interact with customers. Lately, there’s something else they’re known for as a result of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. More partners are college graduates, after finishing their degrees with Starbucks support.

First introduced in June 2014, Starbucks College Achievement Plan creates an opportunity for all eligible U.S. partners to earn their bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement for every year of college through Arizona State University’s (ASU) top-ranked online degree program. Starbucks is committed to helping at least 25,000 partners graduate by 2025.

Currently, there are currently more than 5,200 Starbucks College Achievement Plan partners, and 100 are candidates for graduation from ASU. About 55 of those partners will attend graduation ceremonies on campus, including today’s Undergraduate Commencement at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Four Starbucks partners share their college journey and the role that family has played in their success towards graduation in May.

‘Financially, school was a struggle’

Five months after joining Starbucks, Victoria Warren, now a store manager in St. Cloud, Florida, helped her sister Emily land a job with the company. Both sisters also enrolled at the University of Central Florida, but tuition costs were high.

“Financially, school was a struggle,” said Victoria. “I couldn’t work as much as I liked because of my school schedule, but not working meant I couldn’t afford school.”

“I left Starbucks to get a fulltime job because I didn’t want student debt,” added Emily.

For two years, Emily focused solely on her new job at a jewelry store. Eventually, Victoria stopped going to school as well, but continued working at Starbucks, which had become a great career for her. When Emily saw on the news that Starbucks had launched the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, she immediately called her sister.

“I convinced Victoria to finish one semester to see how she liked it,” said Emily. “In the meantime, I called my former manager at Starbucks to ask for my job back.”

“I was skeptical about online school because I’m an interactive, hands-on learner,” added Victoria. “But I decided to give it a shot.”

Victoria found that she loved the program. Emily joined Starbucks once again and enrolled at ASU.

“The best part of the program is that it’s flexible and accommodating,” said Emily. “Everyone is really helpful from the moment you register until you graduate.”

“Going to school online opened up my availability to work and develop in my career at Starbucks,” said Victoria. “The balance between school and work was amazing. It couldn’t have been any better for me. Online courses saved me so much time.”

Attending school together was a special experience for the sisters.

“My sister and I were definitely competitive,” said Emily. “But this was good for us. It kept us motivated, so we could finish school at the same time.”

“It’s very cool to graduate from college with a fulltime job and great benefits,” said Victoria. “Most students have to graduate first and then look for a job. I’m proud of Starbucks for stepping up and helping partners receive their education.”

‘I always wanted to finish school’

After Khory Riley graduated from high school, he went straight to college at Philadelphia’s Temple University and started working fulltime to pay for tuition. By senior year, he was so burned out from the pace that he made the difficult decision to quit school.

“I thought to myself, ‘I just can’t do this anymore,’” said Riley, now a Starbucks benefits specialist. “There were not enough hours in the day or money in the bank to support me.”

After several years of working on the East Coast, he moved to Seattle with his partner and landed a job with the Starbucks Partner Contact Center – a resource for employees to call with company questions. As he answered questions for fellow partners about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, Riley was immediately excited about the prospect of finishing his degree. Without hesitation, he enrolled in the program in 2014.

“In the back of my mind, I always wanted to finish school,” said Riley. “My grandmother wanted this for me too. She was an educator for 30 years and always encouraged me to take the few courses I had left and get my college diploma.”

Working fulltime and going to school was different for Riley the second time around.

“Back then I didn’t have confidence and I thought I had all the time in the world to get my degree,” he said. “Going to school online was a lot different. It was way more flexible and suited my busy work schedule.”

Riley will attend commencement at Chase Field today (May 9). All students – those who learn on campus and those who take courses online – are invited to walk in the ceremony and receive their diplomas.

“I feel awesome, although not having to do schoolwork feels odd at times,” Riley said with a smile. “When I get to Arizona and put on that cap and gown, I’m sure it will all sink in.”

‘I feel free’

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? That was the question Michelle Brown, a store manager in Sacramento, heard in 2014 as she attended a Starbucks development session. Brown acknowledged that fear was preventing her from going back to school. A week later Starbucks debuted its new program with ASU.

“I left work and cried the whole way home because I was so happy,” said Brown. “I signed up that day. I could go to school without being away from my kids. Starbucks helped to move every obstacle that had been in my way – a lack of time and money.”

Brown had earned her associate degree in 2000, but determined that continuing with school, working to cover expenses and taking care of her daughter was too much to handle. After being self-employed for many years, and having a second child, she joined Starbucks in 2009.

“I fell in love with Starbucks,” said Brown. “I didn’t intend for it to be a career at first, but I was taken in by the culture.”

Despite her great job, something was still missing for Brown until she started taking classes at ASU.

“I lacked confidence. I felt inferior to those who had their degrees,” she said. “Now I feel free. There’s no longer an unmarked box on my ‘to do’ list. Now, I have more control over my life and what I do next.”

Returning to school was a great benefit to Brown as well as her two daughters.

“As a parent, you want to see your kids do as much as they can, but my oldest daughter was just not motivated about school,” Brown said. “When she saw me go back to school, she started to show more interest. Her mindset changed and she improved her grades.”

Brown’s daughter, Sam, will graduate from high school a week after her mom receives a degree in Organizational Leadership from ASU. Sam will attend San Jose State University in the fall.

“What’s great is that my youngest daughter, Dani, is talking about where she will attend college,” said Brown. “There’s an excitement about school. Education is a conversation that’s very alive in our house.”

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom

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Starbucks partners share their college journey

Starbucks partners share their college journey

Starbucks arranged beautiful and delicate bouquet of small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees in select stores and online from East Africa

Guest writer Arthur Karuletwa, director of Starbucks Coffee Traceability, describes coffees Starbucks Reserve coffees from his home of East Africa.

SEATTLE, 2016-May-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Millions of years ago, when the continental drifts split apart from the eastern ridges of the horn of Africa, a geographical masterpiece known as the Rift Valley etched its mark down the continent’s spine. Broad lakes, meandering rivers and towering rock faces formed, while rich volcanic soils held firm to its bedrock while thick rain forest canopies stretched as far as the eye could see.

From its northern origins in Ethiopia, the Rift Valley takes a southern-wedged course through into Kenya and Uganda, before splitting up to the east, engulfing Rwanda, Burundi and parts of western Tanzania into rolling hills. As it passes through each origin, it gives each a unique face-lifts of sorts; distinguished by geography and a preserved identity.

In the coffee world, the diversity of this land and its rich microclimatic conditions is where we learned how to speak of wild coffee thriving in a forest’s understory. The plants, trees and shrubs that cover the forest at ground level soak up the protection from the larger trees above. This is where the symphony of coffee plays loudest.

Coffee fuels much of East Africa’s economy and plays a significant role in threading the very fabric that binds the social welfare of the communities that grow it. Coffee here is integral to community gatherings. To drink coffee is to share a story with a friend, family member or even a stranger. Its responsibility is great as it creates a livelihood for three-quarters of the region’s population and accounts for over 70 percent of foreign earnings, often against a backdrop of poverty, war, drought, famine and political strife – all the while playing the role of transformational hope.

Starbucks has arranged a beautiful and delicate bouquet of small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees in select stores and online this spring from this majestic landscape.

Ethiopia Guji Bilida Bukisa offers notes of lavender and black currant, and Uganda Sipi Falls has a lemony acidity with creamy caramel notes. Rwanda Abakundakawa features black-tea aromas with notes of grapefruit citrus and cocoa, while Burundi Murambi has notes of cinnamon spice and Eastern D.R. Congo Lake Kivu has orange-like acidity and sweet herbal spice notes. Tanzania Mondul boasts a flavorful sweet lemon-like acidity, subdued with hints of chocolate and blackberry.

From its humble beginnings, coffee has infinite ways of transitioning from a lush cherry on a tree stem to a drinkable infusion. With each bean, there is humanity surrounding coffee in all its forms. There is incredible beauty and disheartening desolation; abundance encroached upon by profound scarcity. These stories are synonymous with Starbucks mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Karuletwa has been a Starbucks partner since 2010, and leads the development and implementation of the company’s end-to-end coffee traceability system. He grew up in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. 

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom

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Arthur Karuletwa

Arthur Karuletwa