When Levi Strauss & Co. executives and members of the Haas family established the Levi Strauss Foundation more than 60 years ago, it sent a simple, yet powerful message: How we do business matters. Today, we’re proud to say that message still stands. More than half a century later, LS&Co. has one of the most reputable and progressive corporate foundations of any industry.
With every grant, the Levi Strauss Foundation supports courageous leaders and organizations that take risks and innovate as they address the most pressing social issues of our time — from supporting HIV/AIDS prevention and human rights efforts to improving the lives of apparel workers in our supply chain to helping low-income families save for their future.
Recently LSF gave LS&Co. employees the chance to do the same through its Community Vote 2014. The program put the grant-making power in the hands of employees, allowing them to decide how a special $100,000 grant would be divided among the three LSF community partners.
The Results Are In!
This year’s Community Vote first-prize winner was Community Enterprise Solutions (CES). Based near the CODEVI industrial park in Haiti, where LS&Co. manufactures products, CES is increasing knowledge of financial topics among workers and the community and provides access to cost-saving tools — such as solar-powered lamps, water filters and clean cook-stoves. Additionally, many workers are receiving incentives and opportunities to save through a factory-sponsored matched savings program.
This innovative project is part of LS&Co.’s Improving Workers Well-Being initiative, and powerfully illustrates how collaborative partnerships between brands, suppliers and local partners can help to improve the lives of the people who make our products. For its first-place finish, CES will receive a $50,000 grant.
Community Legal Aid Institute (CLAI), based in Indonesia, was the second-place winner. Through the collective talents of a committed group of human rights advocates, the organization works tirelessly to organize and defend some of the most highly marginalized communities in Indonesia — people who bear the brunt of the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. For its second-place finish, CLAI will receive a $35,000 grant.
San Francisco-based Mission Asset Fund (MAF) was the third-place winner. MAF was established seven years ago, when Levi Strauss & Co. donated the $1.0 million in net proceeds from the sale of the historic Valencia Street factory to the organization. Today, MAF is helping families through its Lending Circles program, which harnesses the power of a time-honored tradition: people in the community who lend and borrow money in small informal groups. This first-of-a-kind social loan program formalizes this community lending practice and helps people open bank accounts, avoid predatory lenders, and safely build their credit history. As our third-place winner, MAF will receive a $15,000 grant.
Image credit: Community Enterprise Solutions