The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation recently announced a $5.44 million grant to the UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD) to create an initiative that will train the next generation of world leaders and thinkers. WORLD is housed within the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and is described as "the globe's largest quantitative policy center, capturing data on what actions governments take to advance social, economic and environmental well-being for all 193 UN member countries."
The Hilton Foundation has long been involved with global issues, working in such areas as children's HIV/AIDS and safe water. Hilton also supports local Los Angeles organizations, including UCLA's Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center, founded in 2001. This latest grant to UCLA, meanwhile, supports the L.A. school's work on the international stage. WORLD's work has implications for a wide range of disciplines and the policy center collaborates with other educational institutions, as well as inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world.
Policy schools have received strong support by a certain swath of funders in recent years who are interested in campus work that has impact on the broader world. Consider a set of 17 goals adopted by the U.N. at the end of 2015 called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals include the aim to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health, advance education, make cities more sustainable, and combat climate change. The Hilton Foundation is very attuned to the SDG goals.
Yet, according to Hilton, few programs exist that focus on training the next generation of leaders to address the needs at the core of the SDGs. This is where UCLA comes in. As Hilton President and CEO Peter Laugharn puts it, "We believe that in order to achieve the SDGs, we must invest in training a new generation across all fields related to the goals to give these future leaders and practitioners the cross-discipline knowledge and skills needed for necessary implementation."
UCLA Dean of Fielding School of Public Health Jody Heymann adds, "Our intent is to use the grant from the Hilton Foundation to equip the next generation of leaders with the tools to learn what works to accelerate poverty reduction, advance equal opportunity and achieve the SDGs."
That sounds like money well spent to us. It's worth noting that this is an unusual type of global grant for Hilton, which is usually puts its money into front-line work in poor countries.