Conrad N. Hilton Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The multi-billion dollar foundation established by the founder of the Hilton hotel chain has a global footprint. Its wide-ranging interests include several specific areas of medical research, various youth support initiatives, support for Catholic sisters, disaster relief, and work in the hospitality sector.

IP TAKE: Even though it does not maintain a targeted higher education program, the diversity of Hilton’s programs and interests provides some funding for universities. It does not accept unsolicited applications. The Conrad Hilton Foundation frequently awards multi-year grants, and has a stated preference to “cultivate long-term projects.”

PROFILE: Conrad N. Hilton is best known as the man who founded the global hotel chain that bears his family name. But in 1944, the hotel magnate also founded the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, with the mandate to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.” A family foundation, this funder’s articles of incorporation require that “direct descendants of Conrad Hilton constitute a majority of the board.” Today, the foundation operates around the globe, with assets recently reported at around $2.5 billion, total grantmaking at more than $1 billion, and about $100 million in giving in a recent year, with focus areas in Global Catholicism, Foster Care, Homelessness, Safe Water, Substance Abuse, Youth AIDS, Avoidable Blindness, Disaster Relief, Hospitality, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Though Hilton does not focus specifically on higher education, it broadly funds a variety of higher education causes across its programs. Hilton primarily supports research, management, and mentoring facilitated by academia. It has funded “evidence-based approaches to accelerating poverty reduction and achieving the [U.N.] Sustainable Development Goals” derived from university scholarship. It has also supported universities and colleges studying M.S. disease research, hospitality and management, and technology. Past grantees include UCLA, Washington University, U.C. San Francisco, Marywood University, and Saint Leo University, among many others.

Grants range from $10,000 to $1 million, but may be in the millions of dollars for long-term projects. For more details, review Hilton’s grants database. The Hilton Foundation prefers to “cultivate long-term projects and partner with organizations whose efforts are aligned with our program strategies” and does not accept unsolicited proposals or letters of inquiry, with one exception: organizations that employ nuns may be eligible for grants up to $15,000 from the Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters.

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