What is the L’Oréal Foundation?
A corporate foundation set up in 2007, based in Paris, and tailored to three philanthropic pillars: science should be accessible to women; educational opportunities should be available to all; and the vulnerable need assistance in restoring their confidence and self-esteem. The foundation is present in 134 countries across five continents, and works through international and local partners.
What does it seek to achieve?
Its stated goal is “making the world more beautiful each day.”
How does it support science?
Through a partnership with UNESCO known as “For Women in Science.” Every year, a woman scientist from each continent is awarded a grant for outstanding achievement, in support of continued doctoral or post-doctoral research in her field. Two of the 2008 winners went on to win Nobel Prizes in 2009. Ada Yonath of Israel won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and Elizabeth Blackburn of the United States won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Each winner of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship gives back to the next generation by committing to a mentoring program designed to encourage young girls to pursue science. Fifteen fellowships are also awarded to women whose work has received recognition by universities outside her home country. Through a system of regional awards, a network of more than 1,000 women scientists has been created in the past decade. And each year, four Canadian scientists win fellowships.
The foundation has also supported “Cil te plaît?,” an exhibition at Palais de la Découverte, which receives about 600,000 visitors annually, where it seeks to make science more accessible to the public through exhibitions and workshops. And it supported, through a project called The Meaning of Beauty, the publication of the 2009 book 100,000 Years of Beauty, written by 300 multidisciplinary researchers from 35 countries. The five-volume reference work follows humankind’s quest for beauty through time.
“We believe that science fosters progress and we promote excellence in scientific research,” says Virginie Dupuis, manager of external relations and philanthropy at L'Oréal Canada.
How does the foundation support education?
Under its equal-opportunity program, the foundation contributes to academic scholarships to low-income families, tutoring for junior high school students, and resources for disabled students. In partnership with Actua, an organization of Canadian universities and colleges, it provides mentoring to girls in science, engineering and technology.
Also, L'Oréal Canada sponsors Project Talent, which facilitates the production of a play in a high school with large numbers of students deemed at-risk of dropping out. Through a partnership with Tel-Jeunes, a youth-help line, it offers workshops to the participants.
Hairdressers Against AIDS, with a strong emphasis on Africa, is a partnership of L’Oréal-UNESCO designed to educate and encourage hairdressers and their clients to talk more openly about prevention and treatment.
How does the foundation help the vulnerable?
L’Opération Sourire (Operation Smile) and Beauty from the Heart encompass a host of projects around the world designed to restore opportunities to vulnerable individuals. Surgeons volunteer their expertise and time to help people who have been disfigured by disease, malnutrition or war to re-integrate into society. Support from the L’Oréal Foundation enabled the French humanitarian group Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) to expand its presence throughout Asia and Africa and perform more 1500 operations in 2010.
“The L’Oréal Foundation believes that re-appropriating one’s appearance and working on one’s image help restore self-confidence and a place in society,” the foundation’s website says.
The project also helps to fund the training of local surgeons and medical students, and funds crucial post-surgical care for children.
Beauty nurtures self-esteem, the foundation says. Its “Beauty from the Heart” program aims to help people made vulnerable by illness or negative life experiences to regain their confidence and control of their self-image by using cosmetics and hygiene products.
In Canada, L'Oréal also partners with Look Good Feel Better of the Canadian Cosmetics Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation (CCTFA), which teaches women undergoing cancer therapy and treatment how to maintain their appearance.
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