Inside the Hilton Foundation's $1.3 Million Multiple Sclerosis Center

With more than $2 billion in assets, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has a lot of money to invest in philanthropic causes. (See Conrad N. Hilton Foundation: Grants for Diseases.) And the foundation invests in many areas, including disaster relief, education, and Catholic nuns. Fortunately for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), Hilton has a particular interest in the disease and makes major grants to groups researching and combating MS. Among Hilton's recent investment in the provision of much-needed services to people suffering from MS: a more than $1.3 million grant to the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

Multiple sclerosis — a nervous system disease affecting the brain and spinal cord — affects 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States and has no known cure. The Lou Ruvo Center employs some of the most-qualified experts in the MS field to provide treatment and services for people with the disease. But effective treatment for MS is high-tech and expensive, and as with virtually any type of health care in the United States, there are inevitably people who are in need of MS services but cannot afford care.

With the grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation, the Lou Ruvo Center plans not only to upgrade its equipment and increase staff but also to improve its outreach and MS treatments for underserved populations in Nevada. (And with 22% of the Nevada populace living without any form of health insurance, philanthropic investment in MS treatment is especially important for the region.)

Groups working on MS treatment and research are eligible for funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, although securing that funding may require some creativity. The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. However, a look at the organizations that have received Hilton funding for MS work over the years reveals a tendency to make large grants (recent ones exceed $1 million each) to established organizations seeking innovative cures and treatments for Americans affected by multiple sclerosis. (Read executive director Bill Pitkin's IP profile.)