For more than 35 years, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has been among the premier “watchdogs” and guiding lights in the field of philanthropy. NCRP promotes the idea that effective philanthropy serves the public good, benefits people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and holds itself accountable.
Three years ago, the Levi Strauss Foundation was honored to receive the inaugural NCRP Impact Award in the corporate foundation category. While presenting the award, Aaron Dorfman, Executive Director of NCRP, singled out the Foundation’s commitment to “devote all of its grant dollars to benefit marginalized communities, more than any other corporate grant maker” and its moorings in a “values-driven approach — courage, empathy, originality and integrity.”
We are pleased that the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund has received this year’s Impact Award in the large private foundation category. Founded by Walter Haas, Jr. (Levi Strauss & Co.’s CEO from 1958 to 1967, and a founder of the Levi Strauss Foundation) and his wife Evelyn, the Fund has invested in strengthening communities and improving lives for more than 60 years. The founders’ values of fairness, equality and opportunity have inspired the Fund to tackle hard problems, whether providing opportunities for people in low-income neighborhoods or advancing rights for immigrants and the LGBT community – and a commitment to staying the course over time in order to achieve its goals.
At its inception, the Fund was primarily a Bay Area focused funder. Over the last 15 years, however, the trustees and staff began to expand the aperture of its vision of a “just and compassionate society” to the local, state and national levels – making bold investments to advance rights and create opportunities for all.
The success of this approach came to life when together with its partners in the Civil Marriage Collaborative, the Fund’s pioneering grant to create Freedom to Marry, launched the marriage equality movement in the US. The Fund’s generous support helped states with the legalization of marriage equality, which, in turn, set the stage for the historic U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that legalized same-sex marriage last June.
While support for same sex marriage has been in the spotlight, the Fund has a broader program reach that includes:
- Supporting equal opportunities for immigrants to become active citizens and achieve the American dream, through programs like the first in nation program that provides scholarships and support services for undocumented college students at UC Berkeley
- Fighting for education equality by supporting pioneering programs aimed at closing the opportunity gaps in San Francisco’s public schools and fostering equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley.
- Building the skills and abilities of organization and movement leaders so they can advance the cause of social change.
- Strengthen the Bay Area as a community with spaces and institutions that bring people together and enrich lives such as the development of Crissy Field at the foot of the Golden Gate and Coaching Corps, which uses the power of sports to change kids’ lives.
“Given the common threads of our company and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, it is an honor to share this recognition from a pace-setting leader in philanthropy,” said Daniel Lee, Levi Strauss Foundation Executive Director and NCRP Board member.
Congratulations to the trustees and staff of the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund.