Walton Family Foundation Media Briefing Kit

“There’s no limit to what plain ordinary working people can accomplish if they’re given the opportunity, the encouragement and the incentive to do their best.” — Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story

Our Legacy

We believe incredible change can occur when you empower people to do good. Our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, felt the same way. Their timeless values live through the Walton Family Foundation, where we enable meaningful opportunities that improve the lives of others. For more than 25 years, we have focused on addressing social and environmental issues by intensifying the innovative efforts of our grantees. Their work allows us to continue our giving legacy in three distinct areas:

While there are unmistakable similarities when it comes to Walmart founders and a vision of a better life for individuals and communities, the Walton Family Foundation exists independently of the Walmart Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Walmart. Each of these foundations operates with separate sources of funding and governance.

Sam and Helen Walton in 1989

Our Priorities

The Walton Family Foundation is governed by the descendants of Sam and Helen Walton and operates with the belief that a private family foundation can uniquely spark innovation and creativity in addressing social needs by investing to make a lasting difference. In each of our three core areas—K-12 Education, the Environment and the Home Region— we are challenging ourselves and our grantees to think big. We are scaling up our impact on not just one school, one neighborhood or one freshwater stream, but across cities and entire ecosystems. We are combining lessons learned at the frontlines with clear measurement.

Recent Investments
In 2014, the foundation moved forward with even greater intensity, focus and commitment to expanding opportunity for more people. Over the past two decades, our annual grant making has increased more than sevenfold from $50 million to over $375 million last year. We collaborated with more than 1,900 partners on initiatives across the U.S. and the world. Our commitments will continue to accelerate in 2015 as we focus on giving that empowers transformational change in diverse communities and the lives of the people who call those communities home.

K-12 Education Program

Education has the power to expand opportunities and transform lives. The Walton Family Foundation is working to expand opportunities and empower children and families with choice.

Since 1992, the foundation has invested more than $1.3 billion in K-12 education. It has supported a quarter of the 6,700 charter schools created in the United States, and it has funded reform-minded school districts. Its grants have historically focused on creating a diverse mix of high-quality schools, training teachers and school leaders, empowering families and fueling educational innovation.

With its new 2015-20 K-12 strategic plan, the Walton Family Foundation is making an unprecedented commitment to expanding educational opportunity. The map represents current areas in which we are working with school and community leaders to invoke change — including New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Denver, Memphis, Indianapolis, Boston, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Camden, San Antonio and Oakland.

The Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 Education grants focus on: creating and supporting high-quality schools; attracting and developing talent; supporting advocacy; fueling innovation; and backing research and evaluations.

In 2014, the foundation invested more than $200 million in K-12 education and is committed to investing $1 billion over the course of the coming five years.

Environment Program

The Walton Family Foundation is committed to improving lives and securing healthy aquatic ecosystems by aligning environmental, social and economic interests. Our experience has shown us that the conservation efforts that result in lasting success are the ones that yield economic prosperity to those who work and live nearby. That’s why we believe in conservation solutions that make economic sense. We forge unique partnerships that bring conservation, business and community interests together to find long-term solutions to big problems.

Over the last six years, the foundation has invested in efforts to support lasting ecological restoration in the Gulf of Mexico, tackle water policy challenges in the Colorado River Basin and water quality issues in the Mississippi River Basin, and conserve ecologically rich seascapes in the Gulf of California, Indonesia and across the globe to push for sustainable fisheries management that benefits communities and families.

In 2014, we invested $101.3 million in projects from Iowa to Indonesia that focus on common-sense approaches to protecting our rivers, oceans, land and wildlife, and the families that depend on them. From spreading innovative methods that save farmers money while restoring local watersheds to protecting turtles while enhancing local tourism, we're continuing our tradition of creating unique partnerships to tackle big conservation challenges.

Home Region Program

The Walton family has a special commitment to the area that it calls home, a commitment that started with Sam and Helen Walton and has spanned generations of family members. The foundation invests in programs that measurably improve the quality of life by creating cultural, educational and economic opportunities throughout Northwest Arkansas and in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region.

Attracting and retaining the very best talent at all levels and ensuring the long-term viability of the area is the emphasis of the Northwest Arkansas Initiative. The foundation will focus on expanding the arts and cultural amenities, strengthening coordinated regional development and preserving a sense of place.

The Delta Region of Arkansas and Mississippi Initiative focuses on addressing basic needs in targeted counties in order to establish a foundation for future economic development. The foundation will focus on improving Pre-K-12 education, public safety, engaging and developing young people, and investing in job creation.

In 2014, Walton Family Foundation invested more than $40 million in its home region.