Behind the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's Focus on Addiction Prevention

Addiction rehabilitation is big business, with billions of dollars being spent each year to help people get back on track with their lives. Perhaps not surprisingly, we tend to focus on treatment rather than prevention when it comes to addressing addiction. (See Conrad Hilton Foundation: Grants for Brain and Mental Health.) However, many people believe that it's time for a paradigm shift — one that would make preventive measures a common practice in addiction medicine, just as they are in other disease areas (such as screening for breast cancer). The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation clearly agrees, as it has awarded $2 million to tackle this issue.

The Hilton Foundation award consists of a three-year grant to the American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation to establish the National Center for Physician Training in Addiction Medicine at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine. The new center will develop a curriculum that is consistent with the preventive model of addiction medicine, training primary care providers in addiction prevention. Adolescents and young adults will be an important focus of the curriculum.

The Hilton Foundation, located in California, was established in 1944 by Conrad N. Hilton (founder of Hilton Hotels) and is headed by his grandson, Steven. M. Hilton, who serves as chairman, president, and CEO. The foundation has funded programs relating to substance abuse prevention since 1982, donating about $3.5 million a year to this issue. The majority of its grants in this area have supported Project ALERT, a substance abuse prevention curriculum targeted to students in middle school.

Overall, the Hilton Foundation gives away roughly $83 million each year, with 59% of that total going to the United States and 41% going to international projects. The foundation's other health-related priority areas include helping children affected by HIV and AIDS ($8.7 million), addressing blindness ($3.8 million), and fighting multiple sclerosis ($2.2 million).

The foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Rather, it partners with organizations working in its funding priority areas and develops long-term programs with them. If you're interested in the Hilton Foundation as a potential funding source, your best bet is to do a lot of networking. Relevant program staff include Bill Pitkin, PhD, director of Domestic Programs (read Bill Pitkin's IP profile), and Alexa Eggleston, senior program officer of Domestic Programs (read Alexa Eggleston's IP profile). Further information on the foundation can be found here.