Last year, we made a pledge to address what we consider one of the most pressing issues of our time – gun violence.
Knowing that no single activist, organization or lawmaker alone can reverse the trajectory of this problem, we decided to use our collective voice as a company to stand up for change and support organizations working at the federal, state and local level supporting communities impacted by gun violence and advocating for the necessary policy change.
In September 2018, we announced the creation of our Safer Tomorrow Fund, which directs more than $1 million in philanthropic grants to nonprofits and other activist groups working to end gun violence in the United States. One of the beneficiaries is Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, a nonprofit on a mission to save lives from gun violence. Named for former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting during a meet-and-greet with her constituents in Tuscon, Ariz. Giffords organization works to tackle America’s gun violence crisis by shifting the culture, changing policy and challenging injustice.
Recognizing the power of the young people advocating to end gun violence, LS&Co.’s Safer Tomorrow Fund supports the Giffords Courage Fellowship which aims to amplify the voices of youth and develop future leaders by providing them with the tools and resources to support gun violence prevention efforts in their communities across the country.
In its inaugural year, the fellows went to Washington D.C. to advocate for the historic House vote on H.R. 8 (The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019) requiring background checks on all gun sales. Fellows received lobbying training by select representatives and three were able to share their personal experiences at a press conference held by Rep. Mike Thompson the week of the vote. The D.C. trip culminated in the successful passage of the bill in the House, an effort our own President and CEO, Chip Bergh, supported alongside other CEOs in an open letter to Congress back in February.
“We are inspired by these incredible young people and everything they’re doing to create a safer future for their families, friends and communities. In the months to come, we look forward to working with them to sustain their efforts, amplify their calls for change and bring the voices of even more young people to the table,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center.
The work for sensible gun control measures goes far beyond wearing orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day—which we and many of our employees did in support of the cause. We continue operating with Chip’s words in mind: “If we stand on the sidelines, we’re not really fulfilling our responsibility to the world.”