In 2006, former Walmart chairman Rob Walton and his wife Melani joined Arizona State University’s efforts to become a global leader in sustainability education and research by guiding the ASU Sustainability Board. In 2012, the Waltons cemented their commitment in ASU’s sustainability efforts with an investment to accelerate scalable solutions to the economic, environmental and social challenges impacting the globe.
In Fall 2018, the Waltons, through the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, continue that commitment to ASU as they increase their total investment in sustainability solutions to $31.8 million. The cornerstone of this extended investment is the permanent establishment of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service along with the continuation of original Walton-supported programs such as the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership, Rob and Melani Walton National Teachers Academy and Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability in Science and Technology Museums program.
Since 2012, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives have engaged more than 320 organizations that affected more than 500,000 people across five continents, completing 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 thus far. The Initiatives were designed around three core tenets:
SOLVE global sustainability problems by creating a service that assembles custom teams of experts who transform research into action for global and local clients;
EDUCATE future leaders in real-world sustainability strategies through professional degree programs, rigorous international study courses and a solutions-focused fellowship program;
ENGAGE and inform the public, locally and globally, to build awareness around sustainability issues, celebrate innovative solutions to our challenges and encourage behavior change.
The Sustainability Solutions Service is an evolution of one of the original initiative programs and will be housed within ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development. This sustainability consultancy, a progression 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.
Such an ambitious, entrepreneurial enterprise requires a dynamic team. The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service has assembled a distinguished group of committed academic leaders, business professionals and international specialists to advance this effort. In concert with our clients, students, fellows and partners, the Sustainability Solutions Service focuses the immense knowledge assets of ASU on the social, environmental and economic challenges of sustainability. These teams actualize the charter and the design principles of ASU as a New American University, in particular entrepreneurship, social embeddedness, use-inspired research and global engagement.