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L.A. Leading the Way

Creek in Los Angeles, with grassy banks, rocks in the water, and fallen tree limbs
A gift from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation to the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge supports researchers across campus who work to make Los Angeles more environmentally friendly.

UCLA’s researchers have an ambitious vision. Whether researching sustainable land use and traffic reduction strategies, inventing new technologies to harness solar energy, or studying ways to increase access to affordable housing and green space, they’re working toward making Los Angeles County the most livable, equitable, resilient, clean, and healthy megacity in the world by 2050. And they’re making headway with the help of philanthropy.

A $5 million gift from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation has enabled the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge to hit the ground running, investing in a research program that has generated regional and global results. Over the past five years, nearly 60 faculty members from 23 departments have teamed up with dozens of UCLA students and scholars to explore local water, urban ecosystems, renewable energy, and other topics.

An Abundance of Approaches

United in purpose, the projects have brought together researchers from across campus to solve sustainability challenges in Los Angeles and beyond. Materials engineering and architecture/urban design faculty partnered to develop a new solar photovoltaic-storage device to use on buildings. Scholars from the Institute for Society and Genetics, anthropology, public health, environmental science, and human biology and society studied the social, political, and cultural aspects of L.A.’s mammalian biodiversity. And several outcomes of Sustainable LA Grand Challenge-funded research also informed Our County — Los Angeles County’s first-ever sustainability plan and the most ambitious regional sustainability plan in the U.S. to date.

Beyond the projects themselves, this body of work has helped spur new partnerships between UCLA and external stakeholders, ranging from the California Air Resources Board and National Park Service to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And since the original gift, researchers have leveraged the funds and secured millions more in additional funding from public and private sources to further their efforts.

An Environment for Everyone

This fall brings one more opportunity for funding made possible by the Pritzkers’ generosity: the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Sandpit 2020. This cross-campus exercise is engaging UCLA faculty from different fields in networking workshops and activities to plan and pitch collaborative research projects for the chance to receive funding of up to $1 million.

After a generous jumpstart, the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is continuing its momentum toward creating the Los Angeles of the future — one in which all of its 10 million residents can thrive.

To learn more, contact

Rachel Scott Foster310-569-6321

Published November 2020

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