The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is a private, non-profit, tax exempt charitable foundation founded by hotel magnate Conrad Hilton in Agoura Hills, California in 1944. For the next 35 years it was a fairly small foundation until Hilton’s death in 1979, when he left a large majority of his estate to the organization. This infusion of capital allowed the foundation to move on from the $7.6 million in grants in it’s first 35 years, to now over $1 billion in total given away. Primarily the foundation focuses on: children affected by HIV/AIDS, overcoming multiple sclerosis, avoidable blindness, Catholic education, safe water, substance abuse prevention, and the general welfare of disadvantaged youth.
The foundation mainly operates through the distribution of grants to non-profit organizations that best improve the lives of impoverished and disadvantaged people in the world. In Africa, the foundation approves grants for those non-profits that best alleviate human suffering while approaching the problem through the means the Hilton Foundation best approves. For example in terms of children HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Hilton Foundation focuses on those programs that focus on the first 5 years of life of the child. The Foundation believes these are the critical years during the child’s development with the disease, and they seek to fund organizations that will help increase access to care and education in this stage. Another example is the Foundation’s focus on clean water in Africa. Over $130 million in grants for clean water initiatives have been given in the past two decades, and the Foundation seeks to grant money to organizations that fall in line with its five-year Safe Water Strategy. This often includes education on proper consumption, sustainable and scalable consumption and access, etc.
An interesting aspect of the Hilton Foundation is it’s close affiliation with it’s Catholic Sisters fund and program. Influenced throughout his life by the Catholic sisterhood and its teachers, Conrad Hilton had a great respect and appreciation for the more than 700,000 Catholic sisters and teachers in the world instituting social change. The Foundation feels Catholic sisters are instrument teachers for social change and stand for the oppressed and vulnerable. In 1986 the Hilton Foundation established the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters in order to support the work of Roman Catholic nuns throughout the world. Catholic Sisters receives the largest portion of grants from the Hilton Foundation, and out of $77 million in grants distributed this year, Catholic Sisters has been the beneficiary of $24 million in grants. One project the Sisters received money for was for water in Tunduma, Tanzania. In the Mbeya region, the sisters received funds to drill a borehole for their health center and solar panels to power the water pump. The solar panels were necessary because the area experiences frequent blackouts, which left the water pump inoperable. The pump now produces water 15 hours/day because it has a double power supply. The congregation’s borehole is able to produce enough water for consumption as well as leftover and spillage that can be collected for irrigation purposes. The success of the project led the Sisters to even consider plans for a successful water bottling plant for the area as transporting and trading water had become an issue.
The Hilton Foundation continues to have a lasting impact on world in terms of its development projects and grants. The Foundation is responsible for the largest largest humanitarian award, The Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian prize worth $2 million given every year to the organization “judged to have made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering”. The Task Force for Global Health was the recipient in 2016 and it focused on addressing large scale health problems in impoverished areas. The foundation continues to devote large funds to work in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia as well as the United States.
Bly, Sathiya. "Report of Tanzania Water Projects Sites Visit." Hiltonfundforsister.org. June 2016.
"Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Announces the Task Force for." Hiltonfoundation.org. August 9, 2016.
"Grants." Hiltonfoundation.org. 2016.
"Our Approach to Children Affected by HIV and AIDS." Hiltonfoundation.org.
"Our Approach to Safe Water." Hiltonfoundation.org.