Kathy Strawn

Kathy Strawn
Vice President and Executive Director, MWV Foundation

2011 Corporate Philanthropy

As MWV constructed its new headquarters building on Richmond’s downtown riverfront, the surrounding community benefitted from every desk, drape and doorknob. Contractors and sub-contractors on the buildout phase of the project – many of them cultivated through MWV’s active supplier diversity program – contributed 2% of the improvement construction costs into a “Community Fund” started by MWV and general contracting partner Whiting-Turner. The first-of-its-kind project generated more than $350,000 for local charities and organizations.

“Our headquarters building makes a statement about who we are, and the Fund associated with its construction demonstrates our commitment – and that of our suppliers – to the Richmond community,” said Kathy Strawn, executive director of the MWV Foundation. “The success of the Fund proves that philanthropy can take many forms, and can include everyone from small businesses to the biggest corporations.”

The Fund was devised as a way to ensure that a broad cross-section of individuals and organizations would benefit from the revitalization of downtown Richmond. When it came time to distribute grants, MWV chose nine organizations focused on making a positive impact on diverse communities through vocational training, primary and secondary education, and violence prevention.

The grants are supporting the development of life skills for young people in Richmond, and also have helped to reduce the incidence of individuals turning to crime and violence to support their needs. For instance, F.I.R.S.T. Contractors provides employment opportunities for young adults transitioning out of foster care or the court system. The grant it received from the MWV Community Fund extended services for 20 clients, placed six clients in entry-level jobs, and employed four more in their lawn maintenance division. Similarly, Violence Free Zone reduced incidents, police calls, and student arrests by more than 15% at one of the area’s toughest high schools.

This unprecedented connection between corporate philanthropy and the generosity of the construction industry has its roots in MWV’s supplier diversity efforts. The Community Fund grew out of MWV’s commitment to diverse communities in Richmond, and included significant participation from women- and minorityowned businesses. In every case, these suppliers were more than happy to participate in a unique approach to building community by constructing a building.

MWV (MeadWestvaco)
Corporate Headquarters: Richmond, Virginia
Website: www.mwv.com
Primary Business: Global packaging provider>
Employees: 17,500