A pile of Levi's® patches that feature a red border with a rainbow colored circle design in the middle and the words "voting for a better future" around the center, as well as a red Levi's® batwing logo at the bottom center.


LSF Backs Democracy Policy Initiative

Victoria Doyle, LSF Program Manager
Levi Strauss & Co.
April 10, 2024

For more than 70 years, the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) has embraced the energy and events of our time by supporting community partners who embody Levi Strauss & Co.’s values — originality, empathy, integrity and courage. Today, LSF outfits the movements and leaders fighting for a just and abundant world in the areas of democracy, immigrant rights, reproductive justice and worker rights and well-being.

Since 2019, LSF has provided over $6.6 million in grants to protect voting rights for historically disenfranchised groups, strengthen civic engagement and ensure access to reliable and accurate information. Now, the foundation is taking another step in this important work.

In March, the University of California at Berkeley’s esteemed Goldman School of Public Policy launched the Democracy Policy Initiative, a research hub focused on strengthening democracy. Backed by LSF, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, and the Peter E. Haas, Jr. Fund — all of which are governed by descendants of Levi Strauss himself — the Democracy Policy Initiative will encourage new ideas that advance democracy, conduct rigorous, evidence-based research and broaden the public’s understanding of how democracy is essential to addressing societal challenges.

“We are living in a historic moment that presents both crisis and opportunity for democracy,” said Goldman School of Public Policy Dean David C. Wilson. “Through the Democracy Policy Initiative, the Goldman School will connect UC Berkeley’s vast academic expertise to support the advocates and grassroots organizations pressing for democracy protections and fighting a tidal wave of anti-democratic policy changes.”

The Democracy Policy Initiative will foster collaboration across the fields of public health, law and journalism, as well as work in partnership with public agencies and community groups to generate, pilot and share new ideas that lead to a more equitable and just society. It intends to develop leadership and implement a new model of learning that marries theory with real-world practice to advance a resilient, multiracial democracy in California — and soon pave the way for the nation. Through this work, the initiative aims to shrink the gap between academic theory and implementation, helping communities and practitioners become the next leaders to advance democracy.

Angela Glover Blackwell will serve as the Democracy Policy Initiative’s chief vision officer, in collaboration with other faculty experts from the Goldman School and throughout UC Berkeley. Coincidentally, Blackwell served as director on LS&Co.’s board from 1994 to 2006.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Goldman School on this timely initiative that will contribute to strengthening this country’s democracy,” said Fatima Angeles, LSF’s executive director. “Having Angela, who is a nationally recognized advocate for racial and economic equity, lead this work is a signal that it is urgent and necessary.”

The launch of the initiative comes as grassroots groups around the country are advancing innovative strategies for protecting Americans’ voting rights, democratizing campaign finance and ensuring everyone has equal access to participate in their community. LSF’s involvement in the Democracy Policy Initiative is an extension of its longstanding efforts to support organizations that are building and protecting a strong and inclusive democracy in the U.S.

To learn more about LSF, visit the Levi Strauss Foundation page on our website. You can also see more conversations with LSF team members working on reproductive justice and immigrant rights.