« Back to Media Center

Walton Family Foundation Invests Over $1.2 Billion
In Home Region Initiatives in 2010

Unique Year Highlighted By Grants to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Includes Grants in Delta Region, NW Arkansas and Education Reform Initiatives

BENTONVILLE, ARK., September 23, 2011 – Today the Walton Family Foundation announced investments totaling more than $1.2 billion in initiatives within the foundation’s home region. While just over $45 million was dedicated to organizations and projects within the foundation’s three home region initiatives, 2010 represented a unique year of grant making as the foundation worked toward the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, investing more than $1.2 billion in the project.

“Our 2010 investments reflect the extraordinary opportunity to lay a foundation for a cultural amenity in northwest Arkansas that will benefit generations to come,” said Buddy Philpot, executive director of the Walton Family Foundation. “Grants to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art were outside of our typical grant making in our home region but clearly emphasize our desire to bring cultural amenities to northwest Arkansas.”

In addition to grants to Crystal Bridges, the foundation invested in three home region initiatives – Arkansas Education Reform, Northwest Arkansas and the Delta Region of Arkansas and Mississippi. Grant making by each area is as follows:

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art - $1,203,290,308

In 2010, the foundation invested more than $1.2 billion in the museum set to open Nov. 11, 2011, in Bentonville, Arkansas. Recently Don Bacigalupi, Ph.D., executive director of the museum, announced 2010 endowment grants from the foundation totaling $800 million to support operations, art acquisitions and future capital improvement needs. Also in 2010, the foundation made grants to the museum of $403 million for artwork, general operating expenses and construction.

The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is “to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. The museum explores the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate heritage and artistic possibilities.” The museum takes its name from a nearby
natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds will house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Visitor amenities will also include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds and a Marlon Blackwell-designed museum store. Miles of sculpture and walking trails will link the Museum's 120-acre park and gardens to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, and the region’s trail system.

Arkansas Education Reform - $15,167,104

Through a statewide education reform initiative, the foundation invested in efforts to increase academic performance of the state’s students by investing in programs that improve accountability, transparency, choice and incentives in Arkansas’ public schools. The foundation works with grantees to:

  • Promote and support academically and financially successful independent and open-enrollment public charter schools, and encourage the closure of those that are not;
  • Invest in organizations that can leverage continued policy support and advancement of educational accountability and choice policy; and
  • Assist traditional school districts in complying with the state accountability policy.

Northwest Arkansas - $24,854,907

Because of strong historic and Walton family ties, northwest Arkansas is of particular importance to the foundation. The foundation pursues a goal of enhancing the quality of life for northwest Arkansas residents, primarily in Washington and Benton counties, by supporting community, economic and educational initiatives that will have a direct impact on the regional industries’ ability to attract and retain a quality workforce. Investments are focused on five primary quality-of-life drivers:

  • Efforts to improve education by investing in independent public charter schools, state and geographically targeted advocacy organizations, traditional school districts and preschool programs;
  • Economic development and infrastructure;
  • Fine arts, culture and natural amenities;
  • Diversity outreach; and
  • Environmental programs.

Delta Region of Arkansas and Mississippi - $5,617,751

The foundation’s history of support and engagement in the Delta dates back to 1991. Foundation staff works with grantees to improve the quality of life in this impoverished region by implementing economic development and community-based strategies that lead to sustainable progress in these defined geographic areas, and by enhancing educational opportunities for children and adults. Work in the Delta region is focused on the following strategies:

  • Improving education in independent public charter schools, state and geographically targeted advocacy organizations, and traditional school districts;
  • Economic development;
  • Community development; and
  • Leadership development and civic engagement.

For a full list of 2010 home region grantees, click here.

About the Walton Family Foundation
When Sam and Helen Walton launched their modest retail business in 1962, one of their goals was to increase opportunity and improve the lives of others along the way. This guiding principle has played a pivotal role in the phenomenal growth of their small enterprise into a global retail leader. This principle also drives the philanthropic mission of the Walton Family Foundation.

Today the foundation is more focused than ever on sustaining the Walton’s timeless small-town values and deep commitment to making life better for individuals and communities alike. By working with grantees and collaborating with other philanthropic organizations, the foundation is dedicated to making a positive difference in three focus areas:

  • Systemic K-12 education reform
  • Freshwater and marine conservation
  • Quality of life initiatives in our home region

During 2010, the foundation invested more than $1.49 billion in domestic and international projects that addressed significant social and environmental issues, and sought to create exciting new opportunities. The foundation continues to implement and expand grant making to fund a positive difference in many diverse communities – and in the lives of the people who call them home. For more information, visit www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.