The billionaire owners of Fiji Water, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, co-owner of the Wonderful company, announced a $750 million pledge to Caltech, comprised of a $400 million gift and a $350 million sponsored research agreement.
Stewart and Lynda Resnic, who co-own The Wonderful Company – whose brands include Fiji Water and POM Wonderful – have pledged the money to the California Institute of Technology.
The couple’s donation is marked as the second-largest gift to an academic institution in U.S. history (behind Michael Bloomberg’s 2018 $1.8 billion gifts to Johns Hopkins University) and the largest gift geared towards combating climate change ever.
“We’ve always as a company and as individuals given back, particularly in the areas that we do business,” Stewart tells CNBC Make It, mentioning the charitable work the couple has done in California’s Central Valley and Los Angeles.
“My thought was that we see climate change.We’re in the ultimate sustainability business, which is farming, and we see the changes already. And if we’re going to be helpful, if we can’t solve the sustainability problem, then the other problems don’t mean anything.
Mr. Resnick is also a senior member of the Caltech Board of Trustees. He said, he made the pledge because the world needs ‘breakthrough innovations’.
He said: “In order to comprehensively manage the climate crisis, we need breakthrough innovations, the kind that will only be possible through significant investment in university research.
“Science and bold creativity must unite to address the most pressing challenges facing energy, water, and sustainability.”
Resnick’s gift will also fund the building of a 75,000-square-foot building named as the Resnick Sustainability Resource Center which will house the school’s sustainability research.
The building will further the work of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, which was set up a decade ago with a $30 million (£24 million) dollar contribution from the couple.
Caltech president, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, paid tribute to the ‘generosity and vision’ of the Resnicks.
He said: “Sustainability is the challenge of our times. Stewart and Lynda Resnick’s generosity and vision will permit Caltech to tackle issues of water, energy, food, and waste in a world confronting rapid climate change.
“The Resnick Sustainability Institute will now be able to mount efforts at scale, letting researchers across campus follow their imaginations and translate fundamental discovery into technologies that dramatically advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems.”
Steven Chu – co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics and former secretary of energy under President Barack Obama – also praise their effort.
He said: “The risks we face due to climate change presents daunting challenges. The discoveries, inventions, and innovations that will be spanned by this incredible gift will be transformative.
“The generosity of Lynda and Stewart Resnick is a lasting commitment for the future well-being of our children, our grandchildren, and our planet.”
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