Rob and Melani Walton strengthen their commitment to ASU
Sustainability solutions remain central with expanded investment
Arizona State University is pleased to announce the permanent establishment of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, furthering the institution’s efforts to become a global leader in sustainability education and applied research.
The solutions service will serve as the umbrella entity for all the programs previously seed-funded in earlier investments by Rob and Melani Walton through their charitable foundation.
With new investments included as part of Rob and Melani Walton’s ongoing commitment to ASU, their total giving toward sustainability solutions at ASU has reached $31.8 million.
“Rob and I believe the breadth of the sustainability challenges across the globe require a comprehensive strategic approach,” said Melani Walton. “The permanent establishment of the solutions service will allow for more effective programming in all of the university’s sustainability initiatives.”
Rob and Melani Walton joined ASU’s efforts to become a global leader in sustainability education and research in 2006, by helping guide the ASU Sustainability Board.
In 2012, the Waltons bolstered their commitment in ASU’s sustainability efforts with a $27.5 million investment to accelerate scalable solutions to the economic, environmental and social challenges impacting the globe.
“The investment and support from Rob and Melani Walton, through their foundation, enables us to create a completely transformed university, one that uses all of its assets, thousands of faculty, tens of thousands of students, all devoted to sustainability solutions as our unifying reason for existence,” said Michael M. Crow, president of the university.
One of the hallmark programs provided by the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service is its Ethical Circular Economy workshop that engages with corporations, NGOs and policy makers to develop a circular economy approach to their region, moving away from the standard make-take-waste economic system that leads to overflowing landfills and depleted natural resources.Photo courtesy of ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
Rob and Melani Walton and ASU leaders join innovators of all ages for the annual Sustainability Solutions Festival to celebrate solutions to challenges that the planet faces.Photo by Denny Collins/courtesy of Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
ASU Rob and Melani Walton Teachers' Academies work with teachers across the U.S. to integrate sustainability into their classrooms and schools. One of their lessons includes visiting a local Goodwill recovery and distribution center to understand materials reuse.Photo courtesy of Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
The ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability in Science and Technology Museums program engages audiences of all ages around the world to learn more about sustainability, such as this activity called Future Builder that asks users to make decisions about how they build new communities.Photo by Edgar Cardenas/courtesy of Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
ASU students supported by the Rob and Melani Walton Global Scholarships work with local farmers in Nepal to create solar irrigation systems that help farms bridge between monsoon seasons. Global studies courses like this have placed projects and research around the world.Photo by Edgar Cardenas/courtesy of Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
The RISN Incubator is a business accelerator operated within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, in partnership with ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation and the city of Phoenix, to drive sustainable innovation and a vibrant circular economy.Photo by Edgar Cardenas/courtesy of Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service
With this extended investment, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service will complement the existing Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership, the Global Sustainability Studies Program, the Rob and Melani Walton National Teachers’ Academy and the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability in Science and Technology Museums program.
Over the past six years, the previously named Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives have engaged more than 320 organizations that affected more than 500,000 people across six continents.
Based around seven cohesive programs designed to co-create solutions, educate future leaders and engage a diverse public, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives have completed 86 projects, trained 7,271 students and professionals, provided continuing education for 816 teachers and science educators and engaged 114,182 event attendees around innovation and sustainability.
The solutions service is one of the original initiative programs and will be housed within ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development. This sustainability consultancy, an evolution of the traditional cooperative extension service model, will co-create solutions-based projects with faculty, students and external partners such as the city of Phoenix, international aid organizations and established and emerging businesses.
There currently is an international search underway for the Rob and Melani Walton Chair for Sustainability Solutions, a distinguished position that will lead business development and operations for the Sustainability Solutions Service.
One of the premier projects underway at the solutions service is the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network, or RISN, a partnership with the city of Phoenix to advance the use and reuse of resource streams such as waste to drive economic development and protect natural resources. RISN’s most impactful program thus far has been the RISN Incubator, a business accelerator designed to help startups and entrepreneurs take their circular-economy-focused enterprises to market. The RISN Incubator was initially funded through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and is operated with support from ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation. In its first year, the RISN Incubator has fostered 13 ventures that have created 30 full- or part-time jobs, generated $3.15 million in revenues and raised $1.345 million in capital.
“Our partnership with the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and RISN has allowed us at the city of Phoenix to make a difference for our community and change our economy,” said Ginger Spencer, director of public works at the city of Phoenix. “Cities from around the world are contacting us and wanting to know more about this partnership and more about our work to become a zero-waste city.”
The Teachers’ Academy, Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership, Global Sustainability Studies Program and the Sustainability Fellowship program will continue to operate within the School of Sustainability. The Science Museums program will be housed at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.
For more information about the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, please visit sustainabilitysolutions.asu.edu.