Lessons Learned: Levi Strauss Foundation Takes the Stage

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 1, 2015

The philanthropic community came together this week in San Francisco to address some of today’s toughest challenges as part of The Council on Foundations’ Annual Meeting. The goal of the meeting is to bring together global leaders from across philanthropy to develop the ideas and strategies that will shape the future.

In this video, Daniel Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation and Council Board Member describes the unique opportunities found at the Annual Meeting:

Levi Strauss Foundation had a visible presence at this year’s meeting — with three LSF employees and two leaders from the LSF Pioneers in Justice initiative, sharing their experience and insights with attendees.

Here are a few of our lessons learned from these sessions:

Smashing Silos and Pursuing Pioneers: two ingredients for leadership and impact 

Daniel-Lee-4_editedPresenter: Daniel Lee, Executive Director, Levi Strauss Foundation

What we learned: Investing in people — instead of issues or programs — smashes silos in philanthropy. Even though it’s a proven, high-impact strategy, it’s largely overlooked:  Less than 1% of foundation funding focuses on leadership development to drive social change.



The Value of Corporate Social Investments: Defining, Measuring and Reporting

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3Presenter: Kim Almeida, Program Manager, Levi Strauss Foundation

What we learned: Finding the business ROI for social investments is quite simple; it boils down to the premise that what’s good for workers is also good for business and that healthy workers are more productive workers. In our case,if one starts by understanding the needs of workers in the apparel sector (for example, health or economic needs) and listening to the HR challenges faced by the factory (for example, high absenteeism rates or low levels of employer satisfaction) and then implements well-being programs that address these needs there will be a clear ROI for the employers.

Breaking the Corporate Collaboration Barrier a Case Study on SFGives

Jason-McBriarty-127x150Presenter: Jason McBriarty, Director, Levi Strauss Foundation

What we learned: Levi Strauss & Co. has always stood at the forefront of change — from integrating our factories long before civil rights legislation, to our early funding of HIV/AIDS, from being the first company to offer domestic partner benefits to launching a pioneering supplier code of conduct. We joined SF Gives and the Tipping Point because they are addressing THE defining issue in the San Francisco Bay Area: poverty and growing income inequality.

Legal and Practical Barriers to Cross-Border Grantmaking

Presenter: Jason McBriarty, Director, Levi Strauss Foundation

What we learned:  Levi Strauss Foundation supports partners around the globe working in locations where we have a business presence – especially in supply chain communities. In fact 60% of the LSF’s grantmaking is outside the US.

Philanthropy’s Role in Free Speech, Press, and Religion

Abdi SoltaniPresenter (part of a panel discussion): Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California and Pioneers in Justice participant

What we learned: Those doing this work in the United States have the framework of the constitution while in other countries the lines of speech and religion and free association are drawn differently. Another theme was the issue of civil society work and whether folks can disagree, even vehemently on some issues, and still work together on other issues.

Building a Civil Society with Police: Getting to Trust

Lateefah_headshotPresenter (part of a panel discussion): Lateefah Simon, Project Director, Rosenberg Foundation and Pioneers in Justice participant

What we learned: Philanthropy must respond swiftly at “Twitter speed” to invest in the social movements of our time. Youth are at the forefront of this and philanthropy should take risks and invest in them as they lead in the social movements of the day.