Award for Corporate Foundation: The Levi Strauss Foundation
The pioneer spirit that guides Levi Strauss & Co. is evident in the gutsy foundation it created in 1952. Today, under the leadership of Executive Director Daniel Lee, the Levi Strauss Foundation drives cutting-edge and effective grantmaking for justice, supporting innovative community partnerships and promoting the practice of good corporate citizenship.
Guided by Levi Strauss & Co.’s corporate values of courage, empathy, originality and integrity, the foundation creates programs that improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the areas of HIV/AIDS, asset building, worker rights and well-being, and social justice. In 1982, LSF was the first U.S. corporate foundation to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today, it devotes a higher percentage of grant dollars to lift up marginalized communities than any other corporate grantmaker.
LSF is one of only a few foundations – corporate or otherwise – that exceeds all the benchmarks of good grantmaking suggested in NCRP’s Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best. It fosters dialogue in the philanthropic sector about best practices through stakeholder convening, conference presentations and regular high-quality contributions in best-practice literature.
Many of these virtues are embodied in LSF’s hometown initiative. Pioneers in Justice engages next-generation leaders who are poised to shape the next wave of social justice work in San Francisco, fostering peer learning around the use of social media, working across issue silos, and forging change agendas across different constituencies. Through this five-year initiative, LSF acts as a convener, relationship broker, constituency builder, listener, knowledge disseminator and grantmaker.
LSF is also uniquely positioned to improve the rights and well-being of apparel workers in places where the Company’s products are made, such as China, Cambodia, Lesotho and Mexico. In the past decade, the foundation has invested more than $10 million in programs benefitting more than one million workers in twelve sourcing countries. Inspired by the success of these efforts, Levi Strauss & Co. initiated a new movement -- “Improving Worker Well-being” -- aimed at building high-impact worker programs into key supplier relationships.
Some of these factory-based programs have demonstrated that for every $1 invested in women’s health, for example, factories may see $3-4 in return through higher productivity, lower turnover and reduced absenteeism. LSF has also supported the development of an open-source global health curriculum focused on identified needs of factory workers, including nutrition, maternal and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.
In collaboration with suppliers, local NGOs and even brands that compete in the marketplace, “Improving Worker Well-being” goes beyond compliance checklists and envisions deeper impact in the lives of apparel workers, families and communities.