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Sustainable LA Grand Challenge receives $543,000 commitment for student programming, equitable clean water research

URSP Students at Ballona Wetlands

The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge has received a commitment of $542,986 from wellness company Liquid I.V. that will help fund innovative solutions to expand access to clean and abundant water for communities in need, and create the next-generation of climate and sustainability advocates.

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is an interdisciplinary university-wide initiative aimed at applying UCLA research, expertise and education to help transform Los Angeles into the world’s most sustainable megacity by 2050 — making it the most livable, equitable, resilient, clean and healthy megacity, and an example for the world.

Liquid I.V., a Los Angeles-based company that produces non-GMO electrolyte drink mixes, is committed to giving back to the community and has invested in three facets of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge: 

• The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, providing much needed support to ensure all students interested in sustainability — regardless of major or experience — have an opportunity to contribute to sustainability solutions. Water access topics will be tackled through classroom speakers, faculty-mentored research and collaborative group projects with the Los Angeles community.

• A Liquid I.V. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Fellow, who will work with a faculty member and an external partner within the Los Angeles region to focus on water security, access to clean water and other water justice issues.

• Two years of faculty research on a personal hydration product that could take polluted water from any source and produce a safe, drinkable output.

"We are very excited about this new partnership with Liquid I.V. and grateful for its visionary gift to the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge,” said Eric Hoek, faculty director of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge. “Liquid I.V.'s philanthropic support will not only have an immense impact on opportunities for students to receive unique educational experiences but will also have an immediate impact in the Los Angeles region and beyond through student and faculty research that is focused on sustainable and equitable water solutions."

The investment is part of a $1.3 million commitment by Liquid I.V. that also includes MAP International and International Rescue Committee, as part of the goal of evolving its impact programming and expanding water access beyond a one-to-one product donation model to focus more holistically on expanding water security.

“Here at Liquid I.V., we’re committed to expanding equitable access to clean and abundant water,” said Jayce Newton ‘02, director of impact at Liquid I.V. “There are many ways to do this, and through our partnership with UCLA we are investing in the next generation of leaders in the water security space.”

The gift is truly transformational for the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, Hoek said, and is more important than ever with an increase in natural and humanitarian disasters throughout the globe leading to more water quality and access issues.

The partnership is not only meaningful to Liquid I.V. as a whole, but particularly to Newton, who is a UCLA graduate. “Our collective water future is very challenging, and we are in desperate need of thinkers and doers who are not bound by current trends or conventional wisdom,” he added. “As a Bruin myself, I know those vibrant contrarians can be found in Westwood, and our team jumped at the chance to invest in their visions.”

Also on UCLA Newsroom.

Image Source: Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Undergraduate Research Scholars Program