After four decades and tens of millions of dollars in investments, the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) will be winding down its HIV/AIDS grantmaking program by the end of 2023, reallocating efforts and playing a pioneering role in supporting other critical issues of the day — namely in the areas of democracy, reproductive justice and immigrant rights. LSF will also continue, and evolve, its important role on worker rights and well-being.
LSF’s work in this space began in 1982, when the foundation became one of the first funders to join the efforts to end HIV/AIDS — particularly in the corporate sector. LSF’s early grantmaking in HIV/AIDS was pioneering, supporting innovative, and sometimes controversial, models like the Syringe Access Fund, which supports syringe exchange programs and public policy activities. The foundation’s funding has also provided critical support to grassroots organizations such as the Sero Project, a U.S.-based organization leading efforts to decriminalize HIV, and Letra S in Mexico, an organization documenting discrimination and advocating for changes in public health for people living with HIV.
This early philanthropic support, paired with Levi Strauss & Co.’s ongoing advocacy, paved the way and made it safe for others to join the efforts to end HIV/AIDS. Today, there are many funders in the space carrying this work forward, many of which have far greater resources than LSF.
HIV/AIDS Summary Report
While the foundation will no longer support the issue, years of engagement in the HIV/AIDS field have had a lasting effect on how the foundation does its work. That’s why LSF has developed the HIV/AIDS Summary Report: Four Decades of Learning, which shares the foundation’s experience and captures their learnings along the way.
Some key learnings in the report include:
- Centering impacted communities: One of the most significant takeaways from the foundation’s experiences with HIV/AIDS funding has been the value of prioritizing organizations that are led by the people who are most impacted because they hold the deep knowledge and lived experience required to address the issues they are working on.
- Funding advocacy and systems change: LSF’s grantmaking evolved from an early focus on immediate medical interventions to systems and policy changes because this approach addresses root causes and is what is needed for better life outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Taking risks and supporting innovation: The foundation’s grantmaking is most impactful when it concentrates its relatively modest resources on unlocking innovation and creative solutions.
“We are proud of this history and honored to have stood alongside leaders and organizations in more than 40 countries to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Fatima Angeles, LSF’s executive director. “We hope that this report will help other corporate foundations looking to drive issue-specific impact through their philanthropic efforts.”
To learn more, read the full report on our website.