Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about the Foundation
How is the Foundation governed?
The Hilton Foundation is governed by an 11-member board of directors, the majority of whom are direct descendants of our founder.
To what extent is the Hilton family involved in the Foundation?
As per the Foundation’s articles of incorporation, direct descendants of Conrad Hilton constitute a majority of the board. Currently serving on the board are five third-generation family members (Conrad N. Hilton III, Hawley Hilton McAuliffe, Michael O. Hilton, Steven M. Hilton, and William B. Hilton, Jr.).
Steven M. Hilton joined our staff in 1983, serving in a variety of roles with increasing responsibility and ending his full-time tenure as president and chief executive officer of the Foundation at the end of 2015. Despite retiring from his day-to-day responsibilities, he remains involved in the governance of the Foundation as chairman of the board of directors. A number of other family members participate in Generations in Giving, a program we launched to cultivate the philanthropic spirit among successive generations of Hilton family members and prepare them for board service.
What is Barron Hilton’s role at the Foundation?
Barron Hilton has played a guiding role on the Foundation’s board of directors since 1950. In 2007, when his lengthy and successful tenure leading Hilton Hotels Corporation was drawing to a close, he accepted the Foundation’s chairmanship and served until 2012. Following his father’s example, he has committed the bulk of his personal fortune to the Foundation. His contribution will surpass the initial amount that Conrad Hilton left to the Foundation, making Barron Hilton the organization’s most significant donor. Read about Barron Hilton’s perspectives (pdf) on applying lessons he learned at the helm of Hilton Hotels Corporation to the work of the Hilton Foundation.
Is the Foundation part of Hilton Hotels Corporation?
No, the Hilton Foundation is separate from Hilton Hotels. While both entities were founded by Conrad N. Hilton, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is a family foundation and was incorporated separately from the hotel corporation. We have always functioned as a private foundation, not a corporate giving program.
Is the Foundation the same entity as the Hilton in the Community Foundation in Europe?
We are a separate organization from the Hilton in the Community Foundation, which is based in the United Kingdom. While both organizations carry out charitable activities and have Hilton in their name, the two foundations are not affiliated. Learn more about the Hilton in the Community Foundation.
Why did the Foundation move to Agoura Hills?
The transition from leased space to our first permanent campus symbolizes the Foundation’s intention to carry out our philanthropic charge in perpetuity. We brought our Los Angeles and Reno operations together under one roof in a space that will accommodate future staffing needs as the Foundation continues to grow. The site was selected for its beauty and the overall quality of life within Agoura and its environs. Our new office building was certified LEED Platinum in July 2013.
Questions about grantmaking
How does my organization apply for a grant?
The Hilton Foundation is a proactive grantmaker. We initiate and develop long-term projects and partnerships to help us deliver maximum impact. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.
Do you make grants to individuals?
We do not make grants to individuals. For access to a listing of foundation funding opportunities for individuals, please consult the Foundation Center.
What are the Foundation’s funding priorities?
The majority of our funding is devoted to our priority areas. Our six initiatives are: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting older youth in foster care, and strengthening congregations of Catholic Sisters. We also support organizations through our major programs: confronting sight loss, overcoming multiple sclerosis, responding to disasters, nurturing Catholic schools, and educating students for careers in the hospitality industry.
Do you have geographic restrictions or focus areas?
We are a global funder, and our grant funds are distributed between domestic (U.S.) and international (outside the U.S.). Domestically, our homelessness initiative focuses on Los Angeles County and our foster care initiative targets Los Angeles County and New York City. Internationally, much of our work focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa.
Does the Foundation give money to local organizations?
Consistent with our desire to establish and maintain a positive presence in the community around our campus in Agoura Hills, we have developed guidelines for our philanthropic involvement in our new home. While the vast majority of our grantmaking will continue to be devoted to our priority program areas, a modest amount will be earmarked for local, small-scale grants to nonprofit organizations with IRS 501( c )3 status. Decisions on these grants will be guided by the same philosophy that guides our priority program grants—addressing the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. On an exceptional basis, we may consider grants that help institutions that are part of the integral fabric of our community. In no case will we consider grants to individuals. The primary geographic focus of these grants will be Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and/or Thousand Oaks. Although it is our policy not to accept unsolicited proposals for our priority programs, we will entertain unsolicited proposals for small-scale community focused grants that fall within the above guidelines.
Which congregations of Catholic Sisters does the Foundation support?
We may choose to work with any congregation to advance the work of Catholic Sisters globally.
What is the difference between the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Catholic Sisters Initiative and the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters?
In 2013, the Foundation’s board approved a strategy to advance the lives and works of Catholic Sisters worldwide. Programs funded in the U.S. target efforts to help congregations attract and retain new members, enlarge the pool of leaders, and improve their fundraising capacity. Programs in Africa seek to expand opportunities for Sisters to earn a post-secondary credential to enhance their influence and leadership skills.
Established in 1986 with funding from the Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters is a separate entity with its own staff, governance structure and funding guidelines. The Fund for Sisters provides small grants (typically $10,000) to women religious throughout the world to support their direct-service ministries and to build the capacity of leadership conferences of women religious in the developing world.
Among religious bodies, does the Foundation support only Catholic institutions?
While the Foundation supports many Catholic organizations and institutions, our giving is not restricted to specific denominations or faith groups.
How have the Foundation’s funding priorities changed over recent years?
The board of directors reviews and updates the Foundation’s priority areas periodically. For example, past undertakings that are not currently among the Foundation’s priority areas include our work in domestic violence, the Hilton/Early Head Start program, and our support of efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease.
What is the relationship between the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and Foundation strategic initiatives and programs?
While they all improve the human condition around the globe, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize is administered separately from the rest of our program activities. Prize nominees are submitted through open nominations and are not required to focus on our priority areas. Following a rigorous vetting process, an independent international jury makes the final selection of the Prize recipient. We have, on occasion, subsequently invited some Prize recipients to partner with us in efforts that are directly related to our strategic initiatives and major programs. Learn more about Prize nominations, or find information for grantseekers.