I'm pretty sure that would be the work of the advertising company (McCann) pushing that angle as they were the partners of the Arrels Foundation.
If you go here: vimeo.com/thecyranosmccann
You can see that Coke is indeed a client of theirs. I would suggest it would be McCann pushing that on Coke rather than Coke suggesting to use Homelessfonts.org fonts.
I love the idea. I think anything that is a bit out of the norm can help build awareness around any issue ( in this case homelessness). It's less about the money being earned for the Arrels foundation and more a project that will help with the confidence of those involved.
I also think it helps nullify the barriers we (society) often put up when dealing with the homeless. It humanises them, by creating this connection that we all have in common as humans – the ability to write, and as they say in the video it's inherent uniqueness to each individual.
I agree with you @Petree - the advertising company would definitely have brought the project to Coke's attention. What I'm not so sure about is that once the font is taken out of the context of how it was made, does it still achieve the outcomes it sets out to do?
You can see from the video that the personal impact on the participants was strong, and I hope that translates into long term self confidence and ambition for them. But remember that point where the woman holds up a bottle with her font on it? How do any of the consumers know that this is her font, and the story behind how it was made? And if they don't know, does the project manage to open communication lines between those who are homeless and those who aren't?
I don't think I know enough about the project to judge the answer, but I do think it's an important question to ask. We wouldn't say a design was a commerical success if the project it worked for didn't sell, and I think applying similar rigour to our community projects can result in better outcomes too.
::How do any of the consumers know that this is her font, and the story behind how it was made? And if they don't know, does the project manage to open communication lines between those who are homeless and those who aren't?::
I would doubt anyone not in graphic design/arts area would care less about who designed any font. That's not the point of the exercise, the font is just something that is marketable. It's the story behind each font that is point.
The website itself is designed to open up the dialogue, and acts as a press-kit for the whole Arrels Foundation, which I would assume has traditional approaches to homelessness.
They know it's not going to change the world dramatically, but it's getting people to think a little differently about how we tackle this issue other than what we have been doing for the past 100? years.