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Inside the Mary's Place Family Center in North Seattle. (Starbucks Photo / Joshua Trujillo)
A family inside the Mary’s Place Family Center in North Seattle. (Starbucks Photo / Joshua Trujillo)

Starbucks, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, Expedia, Nordstrom and other businesses in the Seattle region announced contributions totaling more than $3 million to shelter homeless families in King County through the annual “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign by the nonprofit Mary’s Place.

The initiative, described as “an unprecedented effort to mobilize the community,” will support an immediate expansion of Mary’s Place to shelter more homeless families, the companies said in their announcement this morning. They cited a 20 percent increase in the homeless count last year in the city.

“The 500 families with small children who are sleeping outside in King County cannot wait for the promised reforms and housing that will take a year or more,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a statement. “We need to treat this daily tragedy with the same urgency that would follow any natural disaster. This is a short-term but urgent humanitarian need, and we are proud to join other Seattle employers in the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign.”

The Starbucks Foundation and the Schultz Family Foundation (co-founded by Howard and Sheri Schultz) will contribute $1 million each to the initiative. In addition, the Starbucks Foundation will match customer donations at 200 stores in the county up to an additional $1 million.  Microsoft says it’s also pledging $1 million to address homelessness in King County, including a $250,000 contribution to Mary’s Place.

“We will support partners throughout the area to pursue both short- and long-term systemic solutions, including permanent housing,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith in a statement.

Others listed as taking part include Dick’s Drive-In, Comcast, Alaska Airlines, Weyerhaeuser, Expedia, Nordstrom, Bank of America, Key Bank Foundation, Group Health, Seattle Mariners, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Seattle Association. In addition to funding additional emergency shelter capacity, the companies voiced support for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Pathways Home initiative, a longer-term strategy to address the homeless crisis.

Amazon isn’t listed as taking part in the effort, but the company and its founder Jeff Bezos have separately supported Mary’s Place financially and provided the organization with a temporary shelter facility on an Amazon-owned property.

Separately this fall, foundations started by former top Microsoft executives — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Raikes Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation — joined with the Campion Foundation to collectively contribute $1.86 million to an initiative to support homeless students in Washington state.

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