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Alverno College Awarded $2.7 Million Hilton Foundation Grant to Honor Catholic Sisters

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded Alverno College a $2.7 million grant to raise awareness of the legacy and current contributions of Catholic women religious and to expand upon National Catholic Sisters Week, launched in 2013 through a previous Hilton Foundation grant. Led by Andrea Lee, IHM, president of Alverno College, the Hilton Sisters’ Project will extend its geographic reach, placing new emphasis on young women in Latino communities. Lee secured the original project grant and managed the project from 2013 through 2016 while she was president of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. Because of her leadership and business acumen, the grant will be housed at Alverno College to remain under her leadership. Because oversight of the expanded project will remain with Lee, Alverno will maintain overall fiscal responsibility, oversee project expenditures, coordinate project site initiatives and ensure financial and project outcome accountability to the Hilton Foundation. Sister Ann Oestreich, justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross for nearly 20 years and currently a national leader in the efforts of Catholic sisters to end human trafficking, will oversee project operations and coordinate efforts across project sites in Minnesota, Texas, California and Wisconsin. “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 will coordinate and administer the funds supporting four national initiatives to:

  • Expand the reach of National Catholic Sisters Week and its web-based resource, SisterStory, which will continue to be based at St. Catherine University in St. Paul;
  • Place new emphasis on young women in Latino communities, particularly in Texas and California, which will be based at Mt. Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles;
  • Engage approximately 10 dioceses around the country to design technology and social media-supported programs to attract and engage young adults; and
  • Develop web-based curricula and materials for teachers in K-12 Catholic schools and religious education programs, which will be based at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

“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. About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world's disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts 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 extending Conrad Hilton's support for the work of Catholic Sisters. Following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $83 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2012. The Foundation's current assets exceed $2.2 billion.