The Give Initiative

Providing the tools to make a difference. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

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This month, Polo-sponsored golf champion Morgan Pressel, whose mother died of breast cancer, is taking part in a special Pink Pony initiative. Polo created a Pink Pony shirt for her, and various sponsors have pledged to donate money for each birdie she makes. It is expected to raise $300,000 for the Boca Raton Community Hospital Lynn Cancer Institute in Florida.

Lauren's philanthropy extends beyond cancer charities, however. In the mid-Nineties, Polo made a $13 million contribution to the Save America's Treasures initiative, $10 million of which is earmarked toward preserving the 1812 Star-Spangled Banner that inspired the American national anthem, with $3 million aimed at providing free space in various publications to support awareness of the initiative. Old Glory is housed at the Smithsonian Institution's American Art Museum.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Polo established the American Heroes Fund, which made donations to the Twin Towers Fund, the September 11 Fund, the Red Cross, New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Fund the New York City Police Foundation, and also provides college scholarship money for children of victims who perished in the attacks.

Lauren's foundation has also adopted a school program, and works with a total of seven schools in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and West Virginia. The help ranges from special volunteer programs to financial aid to implement programs. For instance, Polo bestowed the Harvey Milk School in New York with a $50,000 grant to provide HIV/AIDS prevention services.

"In the field of philanthropy, there is something known as expressive giving, and something known as instrumental giving," Cohen said. "Expressive giving is where we write a check and it makes us feel good, but we're not sure exactly what it will do. Instrumental giving has this very focused purpose. There is a means of bringing about some change. While Ralph and the company will do both, he is really focused on instrumental giving, where your gift will bring about a change."

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