Laudes Foundation

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Laudes Foundation is a left-of-center grantmaking organization with the stated goal of reducing inequality in fashion, construction, and other industries, associated with the European clothing store chain C&A. The foundation cites inequality in these industries and climate change as its motivation to reform and restructure these industries. 1

The Laudes Foundation was launched in 2020 as the successor to the C&A Foundation. While C&A focused solely on the fashion industry, Laudes will also promote left-wing progressive initiatives related to the construction industry, the environment, and other fields. 2


C&A is a Belgian-Dutch-German clothing store chain that places a heavy emphasis on sustainability as part of its branding strategy. The company sources more than 90 percent of its products from Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, with more than one-third coming from Bangladesh, where the minimum wage for garment workers is less than $100 per month. 34

The C&A Foundation was founded with the stated goal of making the garment industry more economically and environmentally sustainable. The organization was retired in January 2020, and its successor, the Laudes Foundation, incorporated the C&A Foundation’s goals into its own garment industry sustainability program. 5


According to the Laudes Foundation, “humanity must change course” and radically reform the way wealth is distributed in the world. The foundation, supported by a firm that relies on overseas suppliers for its retail stores across Europe, supports global markets that create a “just and regenerative economy.” 6

The Laudes Foundation supports governments implementing regulations and taxes in order to remove carbon from the economy and advance left-wing climate and economic policy objectives. 7

Selected Grants

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) have received at least €485,000 ($575,000) from the Laudes Foundation and its predecessor, the C&A Foundation. 8 AIR is nominally non-partisan, but has endorsed the controversial Black Lives Matter movement. 9

The Center for Global Development, a left-wing progressive international development think tank received at least €170,000 ($201,000) from the C&A Foundation. 10

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) received at least €1.39 million ($1.65 million) from the C&A Foundation. 11 EMF promotes a “circular economy” reliant on renewable energy, but also alleges that renewable energy is insufficient to prevent climate change and that “radical, innovative and transformational” changes to the global economy are required.

Gender at Work, an international feminist organization based in Canada and focusing on India, received at least €13,000 ($15,000) from the C&A Foundation. 12

The Global Fund for Women (GWF) received at least €1.82 million ($2.16 million) from the Laudes and C&A Foundations. GWF promotes left-wing views on gender and immigration, and supports “systemic redistribution of power” in order to dismantle “patriarchy” and other “harmful structures.” 13


Leslie Johnston is the chief executive officer of the Laudes Foundation, and was the first executive director of the organization’s predecessor, the C&A Foundation. She also sits on the board of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, a project of the Aspen Institute. 14

Amol Mehra is the director of industry transformation at the Laudes Foundation. He previously served as the executive director of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. 15

Lee Alexander Risby is the director of Effective Philanthropy at the Laudes Foundation. He previously worked as a Strategy Consultant for the World Bank in 2001 before working as an Evaluation Officer with the Bank from 2002-2009. 16 17

Bama Athreya is the head of Gender, Equity, and Inclusion at the Laudes Foundation. She is also a visiting fellow at the University of Michigan and was a 2020 Open Society Foundation research fellow, and worked from 2013 to 2019 on gender issues at the United States Agency for International Development. 18 She was picked as part of the incoming Biden administration’s international development team. 19 Athreya wrote an op-ed on November 9, 2020, criticizing Lyft, Uber, and other “gig economy” business giants for successfully advocating for California voters to repeal a labor-union-backed law restricting the gig economy. 20


Before re-branding as the Laudes Foundation, the C&A Foundation’s investment portfolio grew from €18 million in 2012 to €38 million in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, the foundation made large early investments in its Fashion for Good (FFG) project, and the foundation’s philanthropic activity peaked in 2017 at €61.7 million, with €22.2 million going to FFG. Since then, FFG has secured other corporate partnerships, allowing the foundation to significantly reduce and eventually end its support for FFG. In 2019, the foundation had an investment portfolio of €47.5 million. 21


  1.         Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  2. Laudes Foundation, “Laudes Foundation launches to accelerate the transition to a just and regenerative economy,” PR Newswire, January 21, 2020. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  3.        Global Sustainability Report 2018, C&A. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  4.        “Pay more for your clothes, Bangladesh workers tell global fashion brands,” Eco-Business, September 18, 2018. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  5.             Annual Report 2019, C&A Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  6. Who we are, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  7.     What we do, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  8.        Overview of all grants, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  9.        “Standing for Healing and Justice,” American Institutes for Research, June 1, 2020. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  10.        Overview of all grants, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  11.             Overview of all grants, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  12.             Overview of all grants, Laudes Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  13.       “What is Gender Justice?,” Global Fund for Women. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  14.   About Leslie Johnston, European Venture Philanthropy Association. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  15.           Amol Mehra, World Economic Forum. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  16. “Alumni Interview: Lee Alexander Risby on PhD in Geography, World Bank, and beyond,” The Cambridge Researcher, February 19, 2020. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  17. “Lee Alexander Risby.” LinkedIn, Accessed November 30, 2022.
  18. Bama Athreya, LinkedIn profile, Accessed November 25, 2020.
  19. Michael Hartmann, “Big philanthropy transitions to the Biden administration,” November 18, 2020. Philanthropy Daily. Accessed November 25, 2020.
  20. Bama Athreya, “Uber and Lyft notch another corporate victory in the global exploitation of ‘Gig Workers’,” November 9, 2020. Accessed November 25, 2020. of ‘Gig Workers’
  21.        Annual Report 2019, C&A Foundation. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  See an error? Let us know!