Back in March, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made some presidential-sounding remarks in a typically apolitical setting: An annual stockholder meeting. For seven minutes at the close of the coffee giant’s event, Schultz spoke in lofty terms about the lack of civility and leadership in the country, saying “there are moments when I’ve had a hard time recognizing who we are and who we are becoming. We are facing a test not only of our character but of our morality as a people.”

Nearly six months later, Schultz is taking action in an unusual move for a consumer brand. On Wednesday, Starbucks launched a series of online videos, podcasts and digital articles called “Upstanders” that highlight the feel-good stories of people contributing to their communities and are aimed at prompting more civic engagement. But the Starbucks name and coffee cups are largely absent from the series, which will be distributed on the company’s mobile app and across its other marketing channels.

The content is free, offering no obvious revenue stream for the company. The series was written and produced by Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a former senior editor of The Washington Post who is now a Starbucks senior executive.

While the series is not inherently political – the videos depict people who’ve led efforts on issues such as reducing homelessness, keeping women from returning to prison and helping wounded soldiers – it also touches on hot-button issues such as hostility to the Muslim community and empathy training for police officers. And its rollout did come with some political commentary from Schultz: He not only endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in two interviews related to the announcement, but seemed to indicate the door wasn’t closed to entering the political arena himself.

Whatever his political ambitions, Schultz’s efforts to publicly involve himself with social issues stands out amid most public company CEOs, who often fear a customer or shareholder backlash over anything that could be viewed, rightly or not, as having political ties.

After all, shareholders could question the new content series, which the company described as a multimillion-dollar campaign, if the bottom line payoff isn’t clear.

When asked about the possibility of turning off customers by “CBS This Morning,” Schultz said “we can’t be in business just to make money. We must balance profit with conscience and humanity and benevolence and do what’s right for our people and our communities. And we are living proof over a 24-year history as a public company we can do all those things and create long-term value for our shareholders.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.