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Edwards’ Flow of Funds: Heart & Hearth

Home is where the heart valve maker is.

Orange County’s biggest publicly traded company—best known for its medical device innovation and with a market cap poised to push past $50 billion—is growing its giving, including in OC.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp.’s (NYSE: EW) global corporate giving comes via Edwards Lifesciences Foundation. Last year, the foundation gave $8.7 million with $1.5 million contributed here.

Those numbers are up from $8.6 million and $1 million in 2017.

Edwards has been recognized in each of the three editions of the Business Journal’s Civic 50 Orange County list, the latest of which is part of this week’s Special Report and starts on page 27.

Amanda Fowler, executive director of the foundation and senior director of global corporate giving, said corporate philanthropy is “one of the defining elements of Edwards Lifesciences’ culture” flowing through the company’s veins and arteries in the form of 13,000 employees worldwide.

A key area for this of course is the Edwards wheelhouse: heart health.

The medical device maker has contributed $60 million to charitable initiative since its inception, and last year topped the 1 million mark in educating people in underserved communities about heart valve disease via its Every Heartbeat Matters program, which is where about half the foundation’s funding goes.

A good portion of its remaining giveback goes to homes, healthy kids and schools, including working with United Way and elementary school students in Santa Ana.

In addition to looking for charities that make an impact on the needs of the community, Edwards seeks organizations “where we can make a difference beyond our checkbook—organizations that need our volunteers, our skills, talents and leaders,” company officials told the Business Journal.

Personal Best

As with many such things—like Edwards’ overall business strategy—it starts at the top.

Chief Executive Mike Mussallem is widely known in local charity circles for a deep commitment to Down syndrome work. His elder brother George, and his wife Linda’s elder brother Bob, had it. Mike and Linda have long given through Newport Beach-based Orange County Community Foundation—via the aptly named George and Bob Fund—to help the disabled. One local beneficiary: Glennwood House in Laguna Beach, where Linda volunteers.

During Mussallem’s keynote address at OCCF’s 2018 annual meeting, he spoke of his family’s personal passion for the work.

More recently, entertainment trade pub Variety reported this month the Mussallems bought a 5,600-square-foot home in Laguna Beach for $10.4 million—also giving-related since the seller was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & Inland Empire.

The group had received the house in 2017, then-valued at $8.5 million, from the estate of Beverly Ray Parkhurst, widow of Newport Beach businessman Bill Ray.

Local Impact 

Casting the net wider, Edwards works with Orange County United Way in Irvine to back local “education, health, housing and income,” Fowler said. Employee involvement is feted at an annual company Oktoberfest.

Edwards also offers monthly volunteer opportunities.

Employee volunteers have committed to building a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) lab for students at Washington Elementary School in Santa Ana and were on-hand to welcome the kids back to school. The company also gave money to a United Way SparkPoint OC “financial empowerment center” at the school as part of an “impact hub” in the city.

In a statement last year when the center opened, Edwards said it aimed to alleviate poverty, contribute to health and education, and “help families gain financial independence.”

About 60% of students at the school are in families with shaky housing, financial, or employment situations; United Way works with families at the center on job training, debt and credit management, and other areas.

Fowler said Edwards’ employees also “provide school supplies, tutor students, and coach after-school soccer.”

Global Reach 

Globally the giving keeps on, well … giving, flowing through all areas of Edwards operations.

After reaching 1 million people through Every Heartbeat Matters—“two years ahead of schedule,” Fowler said—it’s looking toward reaching 1.5 million by 2020.

She said Edwards has given $30 million to the program since its launch in 2014, including treatment for 7,000 needing heart valve work.

Corporate officials meet quarterly with about 60 companies, groups and organizations it works with on global giving.

“We couldn’t have achieved so much for patients without them.”

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