Philanthropist Michael Milken established the Milken Institute in 1990 with a focus on the interaction between education and job growth. The institute’s mission has expanded to include advancing economic and policy solutions to create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.
The institute has also expanded its reach. At this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, guests included Matt Damon, will.i.am and Charlize Theron. The 17th annual conference attracted more than 3,500 entrepreneurs, executives, philanthropists, scientists and celebrities.
Co-founder of Water.org, Matt Damon, spoke about the water crisis, in which 780 million people in the world lack access to clean water. Damon and co-founder Gary White created the nonprofit organization to find new solutions, new financing models and real partnerships, with the vision of providing safe water and proper sanitation means for all. Water.org operates in Africa, South Asia and Central America.
Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am spoke at the conference about his experience teaching disadvantaged children from his former neighborhood in Boyle Heights, Calif. He also spoke about entrepreneurship, presenting his wristwatch phone, which was an idea he designed and created with the help of an engineering team.
Charlize Theron, founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, spoke at the conference about fighting AIDS in South Africa. Almost 6 million people in South Africa live with AIDS. Theron, a native of South Africa herself, established the project in 2007 to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The youth of Africa are particularly vulnerable to HIV for many reasons including gender inequity, high crime rates, lack of cohesive family units, high incidence of rape, lack of information, chronic unemployment and lack of access to health services. The project focuses on community-based organizations and gives support in the form of grants, networking and building collaborative relationships based on trust and respect.
The Milken Institute Global Conference is organized into more than 160 panels that are grouped into 11 categories, including education, philanthropy, aging, health and environment. Next year’s conference will be held April 26-29.
– Haley Sklut