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Ashoka and Staples Foundation for Learning Expand Youth Venture in Belgium and Canada

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 19, 2007--Ashoka, a global organization with a 26-year history and network of more than 1,800 social entrepreneurs serving 70 countries, today announced it has successfully launched its Youth Venture program in Belgium and Canada. Youth Venture is an initiative that is investing in and catalyzing a movement of young changemakers. Its entrance into these two countries is made possible through Staples Foundation for Learning (SFFL), a private foundation created by Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), which is supporting the global expansion of Youth Venture. In 2006, SFFL began its partnership with Ashoka with a $500,000 grant to launch Youth Venture in five countries where Staples operates, including: France, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Brazil. This year, an additional $500,000 grant was given to expand the program in each of these countries and launch it in Belgium and Canada.

"This exciting and growing partnership highlights the power of entrepreneurship," said Bill Drayton, founder and chief executive officer of Ashoka. "Together, Staples Foundation for Learning and Youth Venture are showing how powerful organizations and societies are built and run by changemakers."

Youth Venture encourages young people to start their own sustainable social ventures and connects them into a powerful global network. The vision of the program is that every young person can be a change maker. Through Youth Venture, Ashoka and Staples Foundation for Learning have seen energy and idealism in youth and the powerful change they can make when pursuing big challenges.

"The global collaboration between Staples and Ashoka recognizes and supports young people who are addressing social issues and creating positive change in their communities," said Steve Matyas, president of Staples Business Depot Canada.

"Over the past two years, Staples Foundation for Learning has launched Youth Venture in seven countries and together, we are empowering young people all over the world by giving them the opportunity to take initiative and make a lasting impact in their communities," said Theo van Brandenburg, president of Staples European Retail.

Founded in 1996 by Ashoka, the Youth Venture (YV) program invests in young social entrepreneurs and helps them start their ventures, many of which have led to social change around the globe. The program has already helped 1,500 teams of young people worldwide to launch their own social ventures and connect with a global network of like-minded young people with the objective of shaping a global culture of youth-led social change. The Venturers start businesses, civil society organizations and informal programs that address all types of social issues, including poverty, health, the elderly, the environment, education, diversity issues and the arts.

About Ashoka

This organization is a global association of leading social entrepreneurs - individuals with innovative and practical ideas for addressing social needs around the world. It has developed a network of more than 1,800 social entrepreneurs serving 70 countries. The foundation supports the Youth Venture program, which empowers youth to act as positive agents for social change in their communities by participating in and leading projects that increase their life, learning and leadership skills and motivate them to be highly engaged community members. For more information, please visit

About Staples Foundation for Learning

The mission of Staples Foundation for Learning (SFFL), Inc. is to support non-profit organizations that provide job skills and educational opportunities for all people, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. The foundation began in August 2002 as a formal vehicle for Staples' community giving. To date, SFFL has awarded more than $11.5 million dollars in grants to over 550 non-profit organizations in over 250 communities across the United States. In addition, Staples Foundation for Learning supports Ashoka, an organization that develops and supports social entrepreneurs around the world, in eight countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United States. For more information about the foundation or how to apply for a grant, please visit

    CONTACT: Ashoka Global Marketing
             Beverly Schwartz, 703-527-8300 ext 227
             for Staples, Inc.
             Eva Pereira, 781-559-0424

    SOURCE: Staples, Inc.