Lauren and Yusaku Kawai

When Lauren and Yusaku Kawai met at Oakwood High School in the late 1990s, little did they know that together they would build a life centered on family, community and giving back. Today, their roles as philanthropists and servant leaders are making a difference in the region they have called home for most of their lives.

The desire to give back led the Kawais to create a more permanent charitable legacy. In 2021, they created a Donor-Advised Fund through The Dayton Foundation in hopes of one day passing it on to their three children.

“We are fortunate to be able to give back and feel it is the right thing to do,” said Yusaku, a software engineer for Lockheed Martin. “The Dayton Foundation’s history and reputation, plus the easy, straightforward process of working with them, made opening a fund an easy decision.”

In addition to their charitable giving, the Kawais are active in the community. Lauren serves on the Oakwood Board of Education and volunteers at several Oakwood schools. Yusaku serves as a trustee on the Oakwood Schools Foundation, a member of the city’s Budget Review Committee and a soccer coach for OHS. They have supported various projects, such as OSF’s Flourish campaign to enhance performing arts at OHS, a computer center in the newly renovated children’s space at Wright Library and a new playground at Smith Elementary, with both their time and treasure.

They enjoy being a part of the momentum of The Dayton Foundation and Greater Dayton as a whole, which they feel expands the depth of their giving throughout the region.

“Most of our focus is on causes that are personally meaningful to us. The Foundation allows us to broaden that scope. We often look at its publications or the discretionary grant awards listed on its website to see what giving opportunities exist in the area of which we may be unaware,” Yusaku said.

This is important, Lauren said, because many organizations rely on donations and community support to operate.

“Any amount can make a difference,” she said. “Margaret Mead’s quote nicely sums up the importance of giving.‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”