- Assets: $6,790,575 (2013)
- Grants Received: $0 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $324,890 (2013)
“Committed to the Quaker philosophy of peace, justice and respect for all creatures,” the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation (LBSF) “supports building resilient, healthy communities by focusing on social and economic justice, regenerative organic agriculture, viable, healthy ecosystems, quality of life issues, development of local food systems, local energy security and peace initiatives.” The Foundation was established in 1959 by its namesake, a philanthropist who also helped to create the Visiting Nurse Association; who was active in both the World Council of Churches and Church Women United; whose primary interests were education, the arts, women’s health and peace; and who avidly supported the work of Planned Parenthood and the American Friends Service Committee.
LBSF pursues what it terms “socially responsible investing,” the general practice of “considering social, corporate governance, and environmental factors in investment decisions.” That is, it avoids investing in any corporations whose practices are inconsistent with LBSF’s values or its mission. On the domestic front, this includes companies that:
- derive more than 5% of their revenues from alcohol production and distribution;
- have any involvement in tobacco production or processing;
- derive more than 3% of their revenues from the sale of tobacco products;
- provide gambling services;
- produce and manufacture gambling equipment;
- are involved in genetic engineering and the production or sale of genetically modified products;
- engage in animal testing that is not accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care or the National Institutes of Health;
- manufacture or distribute “weapons of war and/or weapons whose sole purpose is to kill people”;
- derive more than 3% of their revenues from the Department of Defense;
- “have been continuously cited as having major workplace health and safety issues”;
- “repeatedly have violated affirmative action standards” or “engaged in anti-union activities”;
- repeatedly violate “air water, hazardous waste management, or other environmental regulations”;
- own or operate nuclear power plants;
- mine, store, or transport nuclear fuel;
- produce “ozone-depleting and soil-depleting synthetic agricultural chemicals”; or
- derive revenues from the mining, sale or combustion of coal or oil and their derivative fuel products.
On the international front, LBSF avoids investments in companies that:
- provide “strategic support for repressive regimes”;
- make use of sweatshop labor, forced labor, or child labor;
- “conflict with indigenous peoples”;
- use chemicals, pesticides, drugs, or environmental practices which would be banned in the United States; or
- offer operational support to the government of Burma.
By contrast, LBSF actively seeks to invest in companies that:
- have instituted “strong pollution-prevention and resource-conservation programs”;
- “facilitate quality and accessible reproductive healthcare by providing reproductive services, products and/or insurance to their employees and/or to the general public”;
- “focus on local and regionally based (within 500 miles) food and energy systems of production, distribution and consumption”;
- “focus on alternative and locally based non-fossil-fuel-derived energy, excepting corn based ethanol”;
- emphasize “sustainable agricultural practices and organic agriculture”;
- institute hiring practices that “foster diversity and inclusivity”;
- “support the construction of, and/or provide financing and mortgages for, affordable and low-income housing”;
- purchase goods and services from minority- and women-owned businesses, and actively promote contract opportunities for such businesses;
- support “collective bargaining, living wage and pay equity”; and
- maintain “a diverse board of directors and … management with regard to gender and race.”
LBSF awards grants, mostly in the $2,500 to $10,000 range, to companies whose practices and values it approves of. The Foundation’s grant-making emphasis is in New Mexico, New England, and Florida but is not limited exclusively to those areas. Noteworthy recipients of LBSF grants include such groups as the American Friends Service Committee, the Nature Conservancy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Rainforest Action Network, the Trust for Public Land, and the Peace & Security Funders Group (PSFG). LBSF itself is a former member of PSFG, which is an association of foundations that support anti-war and environmentalist causes.
Further Reading: LydiaBStokesFoundation.org: “Our Mission“; “Our Story“; “Investment Policy“; “Grant Guidelines“; “The New Internationalism: Peace and Security Funders Group” (Capital Research Center, August 2009, re: list of PSFG members).