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President Nellis with VandalStore Starbucks staff

coffee and tips for the found money fund are exchanged

Tips for Education: VandalStore Starbucks Tips Go To Found Money Fund

Yes, that’s a tip cup at the new VandalStore Starbucks. But, the change from patrons doesn’t go to the baristas; as University of Idaho employees, they can’t accept tips. So, enterprising employees came up with a solution: tips for deserving Starbucks staffers at the VandalStore are donated to the University’s Found Money Fund, which benefits the school.

 “Knowing that our hard work is benefiting the University community is really great; and we’re still getting recognized for what we do,” says Amy Browne, U-Idaho alumna and Starbucks team lead. “Everyone seems pretty happy with the donations.”

Starbucks, which recently held its VandalStore location grand opening, is a licensed operation and run by the University – so the funds stay on campus, including the tips.

“At the VandalStore, all profits stay on campus,” says John Bales, VandalStore director. “This just adds to the experience.”

The Found Money Fund was started in 1981 by Terry Armstrong and Carol Yenni, who picked up coins on campus. The fund grew to include collection cups across campus and outright donations to be used as a discretionary fund beginning after the University’s bicentennial in 2089.

As coffee drinkers ventured into the new Starbucks location looking for the normal tip jar, the baristas were disappointed that they couldn’t accept tips for a job well done. So several of the Vandal employees put their heads together to find a solution: use those tips to continue building the Found Money Fund Scholarship.

“It really goes with the Starbucks mission of giving back to the community,” says Scott McDonald, VandalStore Starbucks manager. “The opportunity to get this involved with the University is fantastic!”

So far, the process has been extremely easy: the staff gathers tips from the previous day and hands it off to the Dean of Students Bruce Pitman on his daily morning trip into Starbucks. Of course, Pitman isn’t their only “regular”; though the store has only been open for a couple of weeks, they already have regulars and fans.

“We really try to make this a community and that’s a ’third place‘,” says McDonald.  “We want people to feel as comfortable here as they do at [their other two places:] home and work. We’ve got a great team to accomplish that.”

The new business on campus created four full-time positions and 14 part-time jobs and is bringing both University and community traffic in for a cup of joe. To accommodate the increased customer traffic, Parking Services has allotted several new 30-minute parking spaces on the south side of the VandalStore. In addition, hours have been extended beyond the VandalStore hours: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The increased hours are already bringing in staff and faculty in the mornings and the church crowd in on Sunday. McDonald says the customer stream has been a pretty steady throughout the day, with peaks in-between classes and in the afternoon, as classes wind down.

“This is really becoming a meeting place for people on campus,” says McDonald.

As word of the new VandalStore Starbucks spreads, so is its popularity for coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches, as the store also has a warming station. And you can even pick up your Joe Vandal gear with your cup of joe.