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By B.L. Ochman

100kOpportunitiesThere is no shortage of talk about the economy – but, sadly, it’s just talk.

Except when it comes to Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz.

Schultz is spearheading The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, a plan, with 16 other companies to create jobs for Americans age 16-24 — 5.6 million of whom are currently unemployed.

“At the same time,” according to Starbucks, “there are 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. Jobs that do not require a four-year degree – sometimes called middle-skill jobs – make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States.”

Nelson D. Schwartz, writing in the NY Times, notes “At 18.1 percent, the unemployment rate for workers age 16 to 19 remains more than three times as high as the 5.3 percent jobless rate for the entire work force.

“The leadership at the local and federal level isn’t providing the kind of results we need to address these issues,” Schultz told the Times. As a result, he said, companies “have to do everything we can to ensure the playing field is level.”

In addition to Starbucks, companies participating in the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative include Alaska Airlines, CVS Health, Microsoft, Taco Bell, Target and Walmart. The Hilton hotel chain, is promising to hire 15,000 “at risk” young people in the next three years.

From public housing to public acclaim

Schultz, who grew up in public housing and who was the first member of his family to attend college, says that kind of path is much harder for young people in today’s economy.

Last year, Starbucks began a plan to pick up much of the cost for its baristas to earn a college degree online from Arizona State University. The family foundation created by Mr. Schultz and his wife, Sheri, privately donated $30 million recently to help veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq transition to civilian life and find work. And, Schwartz reports, Schultz plans to earmark $30 million to increase economic opportunities for young people.

Not all sweet

One recent Starbucks campaign, #RaceTogether, didn’t go well, and caused a major social media kerkuffle.

Election 2016 Needs You, Mr. Schultz!

But you gotta give Howard Schultz props for trying to create change. So, Mr. Schultz, if you want to run for president, (Democrat of course) 2016 needs you. I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.