Alverno College receives $2.7 million grant from the Hilton Foundation

Grant to highlight and support outreach charitable initiatives of Catholic women in religious orders

The California-based Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, a humanitarian organization created by the founder of Hilton Hotels, has given Alverno College a $2.7 million grant to raise awareness of the actions of Catholic women in religious orders and expand its National Catholic Sister’s week program, which was launched three years ago through a previous grant from the organization.


“I am delighted that Alverno will be the home for this grant, given the possibilities for making visible to a larger audience the service of women religious in meeting human needs through education, health care, social work and pastoral care,” said Sister Mary Diez, president of the School Sisters of St. Francis and a former faculty leader at Alverno College, in a statement.

Alverno outlined four ways the money will be spent in a statement announcing the grant Wednesday afternoon:

  • To expand National Catholic Sisters Week and its web site, SisterStory, based at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.
  • To create an initiative at Mt. Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles to engage young women in Latino communities in Texas and California.
  • To help around 10 dioceses around the country design and implement technology and social media programs to attract and engage young adults.
  • To support efforts at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas to develop web-based curricula and materials for teachers in K-12 Catholic schools and religious education programs.

An initial grant from the Hilton Foundation to create the National Catholic Sisters Week was given to Alverno College President Andrea Lee while she was president of St. Catherine University in St. Paul in 2013. Though the initiative will remain based in St. Paul, Lee continues to oversee the program and Alverno will maintain overall fiscal responsibility of it with the $2.7 million grant.

“Religious life is a gift to our world, and as women religious, we are delighted to share it,” said Sister Carol Rigali, provincial of the School Sisters of St. Francis United States Province Leadership Team. “Alverno College is an ideal location to further the relationships between women religious across the United States and women in Catholic colleges and universities. This Hilton-funded outreach focuses on the future, as we continue to share the profound impact of women religious, past and present, on our church and society. This also is an opportunity for touching hearts and minds with the stories and contributions of Catholic sisters.”

Alverno College is a four-year, independent Catholic liberal arts college for women founded in 1887  by the School Sisters of St. Francis.

The Hilton Foundation was established in 1944 by Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels. The foundation leads strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care and supporting the work of Catholic nuns.

Since it was founded, the organization has awarded more than $1 billion in grants.

Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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