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New Survey Rates Quality of Life Factors in Northwest Arkansas

Quality of Life in Northwest Arkansas
Survey Highlights

Amenities

  • 40% – 63% of residents use amenities funded by the foundation (Walton Arts Center, The Jones Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and local trails)

Education

  • 68% – 77% perceive kindergarten through higher education to be of good quality
  • 52% say pre-K offerings are high-quality
  • Only 21% believe pre-K is affordable

Diversity

  • 60% say diverse lifestyles and cultures make the area a better place to live

Environment

  • 68% believe water quality is very good

Economic Development and Infrastructure

  • 70% say there is too much traffic on the way to work and school
  • 60% of the respondents report they would like more public transit options

The complete survey report can be downloaded here.

The Walton family has a special and ongoing commitment to northwest Arkansas. Because of their generation-spanning ties to the area, the foundation invests as part of its Home Region Focus Area in programs that measurably improve the quality of life in northwest Arkansas.

In all of our focus areas, we continually evaluate the effectiveness of our grant making strategy. One way we have done that in northwest Arkansas is with a survey to determine if residents are satisfied with life in the region. The survey also measures, in part, the impact of foundation giving in northwest Arkansas and establishes a baseline measurement to track changes over time.

In the survey, conducted by the foundation’s Evaluation Unit and the Survey Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University, respondents from Washington and Benton counties answered questions about overall perceptions of quality of life particularly in the areas in which the foundation invests, as well as topics currently not funded by the foundation.

  • Overall, respondents said they were generally happy and believe they have a high quality of life but would like to see more affordable high-quality pre-K options, cheaper and more frequent flights to more destinations and less traffic.
  • Respondents shared that the factors most impacting their quality of life are jobs, income and family. Comparing the results to a national survey conducted by the University of Chicago, Northwest Arkansans (94 percent) are happier on average as a group, compared to the nation as a whole (91.5 percent).
  • Approximately 25 percent of those surveyed said they did not have enough money to meet their everyday needs. These residents were mostly white (83 percent) and have children under the age of 18 (60 percent). The majority is women (51 percent), and the majority has a household income of under $20,000 annually (52 percent).

The foundation is midway through a five-year strategic plan for grant making in the region and made investments of more than $23.5 to 36 organizations from January 2010 to August 2012.