Starbucks and City of San Diego Donate $20,000 and Thousands of Books To Local Literacy Group

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- READ/San Diego today received, on International Literacy Day, $10,000 from Starbucks through a partnership with Mark McGwire and the ``Out of the Park -- Into the Books'' literacy program. In addition, the City of San Diego matched the funds bringing the total to $20,000 for the program. Also, more than 30 family members attended a storytelling event at the Malcolm X Library to celebrate. The funds will go toward new computers for the learning center at READ/San Diego where adults in the community learn to read and write.

READ/San Diego's literacy program is paying off for members of the community. San Diego resident Maria Gonzalez is a perfect example of how a literacy program benefits families. Gonzalez came to READ/San Diego barely able to speak English and unable to read the notes from the school where her three children attended. With the assistance of the READ/San Diego literacy program, Gonzalez learned to read and speak English to successfully pass the U.S. Citizenship examination. Her next goal was to pass the General Education Development (GED) test, which she achieved only two years after she started working with tutors in the program. Gonzalez improved her basic computer and word processing skills through the READ/San Diego program and landed a full-time job. Gonzalez's motivation inspired her husband to enroll in classes at READ/San Diego to obtain his high school diploma.

In addition, approximately 4,000 children's books were collected from Starbucks Third Annual ``All Books for Children'' book drive. Children's books were gathered from August 4 through September 8 at San Diego Starbucks stores and San Diego Public and County Branch Libraries for the READ/San Diego family literacy program.

``READ/San Diego has a wonderful literacy program, Maria Gonzales is a perfect example of its success,'' said Ronit Austgen, regional marketing manager, Starbucks Coffee Company. ``The READ/San Diego program and the 'All Books for Children' book drive gives Starbucks the perfect opportunity to get our community thinking about reading, while giving back to neighborhood families.''

``Read. Dream. Grow. Out of the Park - Into the Books'' is the partnership between Starbucks and Mark McGwire, developed as a result of their mutual commitment to helping children. Throughout the 1999 season, the Starbucks Foundation will match each of McGwire's home runs with a $5,000 donation to children's literacy organizations in each city where he plays.

The program all started with a hat. Last season, before the fourth game of the World Series, McGwire walked into a Southern California Starbucks and asked if he could buy a Starbucks hat. Since the company does not sell hats, the barista gave McGwire his hat. He wore the hat to throw out the first pitch in Game 4 of last year's World Series. McGwire's appreciation for the company's values prompted him to contact chairman and ceo Howard Schultz, paving the way for the ``Read. Dream. Grow. Out of the Park - Into the Books'' partnership.

About READ/San Diego

READ/San Diego is a free literacy and English as a Second Language instruction service provided by the San Diego Public Library for adults 18 years of age and older. It is one of more than 100 literacy programs offered by public libraries though out California. READ/San Diego is supported by the City of San Diego with assistance from Friends of the READ/San Diego Literacy Programs and the State of California. It also relies on contributions from local businesses, civic and service organizations and individuals.

About Starbucks

Started in 1997 by Schultz, the Starbucks Foundation is a non-profit corporate foundation created to support charitable causes in communities where Starbucks conducts business. Domestically, the Foundation focuses on literacy because Starbucks believes in the power of reading -- to change lives, to combat poverty and despair and to involve parents in creating a better future for their children.

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