About Sol Price

In November 2011, Price Philanthropies made an extraordinary $50 million gift to the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy to honor the life and legacy of Sol Price, founder of Price Club. This gift also launched the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. The gift reflected a remarkable alignment between Sol Price’s life and legacy, the Price School’s mission, and the work of the Price Center for Social Innovation.

Sol Price, founder of Price Club, possessed a deep understanding of the interplay between the public sector, private industry, and nonprofit organizations to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities. His legacy includes support for public policies aimed at poverty reduction, the role of nonprofit organizations in social services, access to a quality education and health care, and community improvement. For over twenty years, Price Philanthropies, established by Sol and Robert Price, has helped transform the low-income neighborhood of City Heights in San Diego through a holistic, place-based approach to urban revitalization. For this reason, City Heights is a core component of the Price Center’s research and educational activities.



Click on the boxes below to explore how our work is advancing the legacy of Sol Price.

Social Justice & Equity

Sol Price had a profound commitment to social justice and reducing poverty. Throughout his life, he invested in philanthropic efforts that supported those in need, including major urban development initiatives in the low-income City Heights neighborhood of San Diego.

The Price Center for Social Innovation is building upon this work by collaborating with community partners to identify strategies for increasing access to education, jobs, transportation, affordable housing, and financial capital within low-income urban communities. Further, the Price Center is engaged in multiple initiatives designed to combat homelessness, helping to expand housing stability for all individuals in the Los Angeles region.

Innovation in the Private Sector

As founder of Price Club (which later merged with Costco), Sol Price revolutionized consumer buying habits through a membership model that provided customers greater value. He was known especially for the care and dignity with which he treated employees.

The Price Center for Social Innovation advances this work through multiple research partnerships that seek to improve innovation in the private sector. Price Center faculty are actively exploring new private sector models that blend the social mission of nonprofit organizations with the traditional capital structures and business practices of for-profit organizations. Examples include new hybrid legal forms, such as cooperatives, low-profit limited liability corporations, and benefit corporations.

Real Estate and Urban Policy

Sol Price was a pioneer in real estate, starting one of the first real estate investment trusts (REIT’s) in California in the early 1970’s. Additionally, Price served as a board member of the Urban Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income Americans. Sol and son Robert used innovative approaches to real estate to help transform the low-income neighborhood of City Heights in San Diego, creating mixed-use real estate development projects as part of a larger economic development effort in the neighborhood.

The Price Center for Social Innovation is advancing this legacy by working to develop new models to expand affordable housing in urban communities, including the development of new affordable housing units and the preservation of existing stock. The Price Center is particularly focused on identifying new financing models to support the development and preservation of affordable housing within urban markets like Los Angeles.

Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Sol Price supported a wide range of philanthropic endeavors in San Diego. Still today, Price Philanthropies, established by Sol Price and wife Helen, implements a holistic approach to improving the quality of life for City Heights residents through residential and retail real estate development, and access to health and social services, education, jobs, legal representation, and safe neighborhoods.

The Price Center for Social Innovation shares this commitment to advancing innovation within the nonprofit and philanthropic sector by partnering with a wide range of community organizations dedicated to advancing place-based work in low-income communities. Central to this work is the development of the Price Center’s new Neighborhood Data for Social Change platform, which helps communities better incorporate neighborhood-level data into their local decision-making.