Walmart Exec Donates $27.5 Million to Sustainability School

Michael Crow, Melani Walton and Rob Walton

Rob Walton (right) and wife, Melani, pose with Arizona State University President Michael Crow. Photo: Daniel Cavanaugh/Global Institute of Sustainability/Arizona State University

Arizona State University is about to become a whole lot greener. Figuratively speaking, anyway.

Walmart chairman of the board and co-chairman of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability Rob Walton and his wife, Melani, donated $27.5 million to the school in late March, a gift they hope will mold young minds into creating the economic and environmentally sustainable solutions of the future.

“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,” Walton says in a statement. “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.”

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The university will receive $5.5 million each year for the next five years, which will fund four new strategies at the school – a sustainability consulting service for current practitioners and youth, funding research, developing a fellowship program and building an international “sustainability network,” which will establish environmental solutions centers on three continents.

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Sustainable causes are near and dear to the Waltons. Rob Walton, a Paradise Valley, Ariz. resident, serves as co-chair of the board of directors at the Global Institute of Sustainability. His wife, Melani, is an active member of the Nature Conservancy of Arizona and Conservation International.

Walmart has moved toward greener policies in recent years, including becoming the second largest retail consumer of green power, conserving wildlife habitats and donating money to help revive urban ecosystems.

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