The Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation is providing $27.5 million to Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) to develop and deploy promising solutions to sustainability challenges including energy, water, environment, climate, urbanization, social transformation and decision-making in local, national and global contexts and to educate future leaders in sustainability. The investment to ASU is designated entirely for program support.
The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Fund will support four strategies over the next five years that:
- Deliver sustainability solutions to the front line through a sustainability consulting service, training of practitioners and educating youth.
- Seed fund the most promising, high-impact ideas in sustainability research.
- Build an international sustainability network by implementing a global sustainability studies program and establishing sustainability solutions centers on three continents.
- Train the next generation of sustainability scholars, government and non-governmental practitioners through a fellowship program.
“Rob and Melani Walton have been integral in helping ASU realize its sustainability vision with Rob as a board member of GIOS, facilitating the creation of the nation’s first School of Sustainability, and now, with this investment,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Their commitment will significantly advance our work to find local solutions to global problems that will help us create a sustainable way of life.”
The Waltons have long supported sustainability and conservation programs. Melani Walton is active with the Nature Conservancy of Arizona and Conservation International, in addition to other philanthropic organizations. Rob Walton is co-chair of the board of directors for sustainability at ASU and a director of Conservation International, as well as chairman of the executive committee. He also is chairman of the board of directors of Walmart.
“Our intent with our investment is to develop sustainability strategies that ensure the long-term economic viability and continuous evolution of the programs seed funded by this grant,” said Rob Walton. “We want to educate future leaders and empower current scholars so they will effectively apply knowledge to action, creating a better world for all of us.”
The Walton sustainability initiative at ASU will be led by Rob Melnick, executive dean of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Presidential Professor of Practice in the School of Sustainability, and Sander van der Leeuw, dean and professor, ASU’s School of Sustainability and co-director of ASU’s Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative.
“This is a major investment in civilization’s future,” emphasized R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., chief executive office of the ASU Foundation for a New American University. “Some people want to see change and then others – like Rob and Melani Walton – enable the type of change we must see to ensure a sustainable future.”