Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Awards $550,000 To Miller Center’s Sisters’ Blended Value Project

Media Mention, Press Release


SANTA CLARA, Calif., January 22, 2020—Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has been awarded a $550,000 Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant to support the transformation of social ministries into social enterprises in Eastern and Central Africa where more than 30,000 Catholic Sisters serve some of the most marginalized people on the planet.

The grant supports Miller Center training and mentorship for the Sisters—well-regarded community leaders—to turn existing social ministries like schools, farms, and healthcare services into more business-oriented and sustainable social enterprises.

“We are grateful to the Hilton Foundation whose generous support will help catalyze sustainable and scalable solutions that alleviate poverty in Eastern and Central Africa,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “Catholic Sisters are uniquely positioned to unleash the potential of African women and youth in particular; they are trusted community-based leaders who solve complex social problems and have been at the forefront of building healthcare systems and social services in underserved areas.”

The Sisters’ Blended Values Project will provide practical, hands-on learning experiences, apprenticeships and start-up skills in social entrepreneurship for Catholic Sisters, enabling congregations to more effectively lead social entrepreneurships initiatives.

“At the Hilton Foundation, we are working to support Catholic sisters in becoming recognized as global leaders in sustainable human development while building a global sisterhood,” said Angelique Mutombo, senior program officer, Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Hilton Foundation. “Miller Center’s Sisters’ Blended Values Project supports that goal.”

Miller Center has entered into a partnership with The Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA), a regional body representing 301 congregations of about 30,0000 Sisters in 10 countries.  The partnership is designed to transform congregational social ministries into social enterprises, building on Miller Center’s experience in accelerating more than 1000 social enterprises in 100 countries, that have collectively improved, transformed or saved the lives of over 400 million people.

“We understand and embrace the need to change, to ensure the sustainability of our ministries, communities and congregation members,” said Sister Eneless Chimbali, former secretary-general of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA). “Through the support of the Hilton Foundation and our partnership with Miller Center, our leaders will be more prepared to use entrepreneurial skills and systems to create solutions to poverty.”

The two-year pilot project includes on-the-ground apprenticeships with successful social entrepreneurs, who are alumni of Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI® ) programs, including social enterprises Eggpreneur (sustainable egg farming to end cycles of poverty); NuCafe (smallholder coffee farmer cooperatives); and, Teach a Man To Fish Foundation (applying entrepreneurial education to schools).

In addition, selected congregation leaders will participate in Miller Center’s GSBI® Online, a six-month, mentored, customized accelerator program designed to help Sisters start their own community enterprises across congregations. The program connects participants with seasoned, executive mentors who help build growth and funding plans, financial models, and marketing materials to grow the enterprise in a sustainable way.

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Media Contacts

Rhonda Brauer for Miller Center,, (213) 508-0426

Deborah Lohse, SCU Media Communications,, (408) 554-5121

About Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, located at Santa Clara University, has accelerated more than 1000 social enterprises since 2003. These collectively have improved, transformed, or saved the lives of over 400 million people in 100 countries. We help transform social ministries to more sustainable social enterprise models. We engage Santa Clara University students in research that helps social enterprises, leveraging our location in the heart of Silicon Valley and our Jesuit ambition to end poverty and protect the planet.

About Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

About 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 individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 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 $1.8 billion in grants, distributing $110 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2019. Foundation assets increased from approximately $2.9 billion to $6.3 billion following the 2019 passing of Barron Hilton who, like his father, pledged virtually his entire estate to the Foundation. For more information, please visit

About the Association of Consecrated Women of East and Central Africa (ACWECA)

ACWECA is a Regional body comprising of 10 English speaking countries of Eastern and Central Africa namely Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In order to promote the vitality of Religious Life in this part of the world, ACWECA reach the Sisters through their National Associations (Conference of Major Religious Superiors). And as a regional body, ACWECA coordinates the ministry of over 30,000 sisters from about 302 Congregations in Eastern and Central Africa, thereby providing a real potential of great spiritual and pastoral impact in the region