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Walton Family Foundation Announces Major Investments to Support, Retain and Increase the Diversity of Educators Nationwide

September 17, 2019
More than $20 million in new grants driven by the belief that those closest to students are best positioned to find solutions

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Sept. 17, 2019 — Today, the Walton Family Foundation announced funding totaling more than $20 million to support efforts to make the teaching profession more dynamic and sustainable. These grants build on decades of giving dedicated to support, retain and increase the diversity of educators nationwide.

“Access to a great education can be life changing,” said Alice Walton in an open letter published in The New York Times Magazine on September 15. “For decades, the Walton Family Foundation has supported innovative approaches to education. Of the many things we’ve learned over the years, this truth stands out: A great education begins with a great teacher.”

Adds Sydney Chaffee, 2017 National Teacher of the Year and a ninth-grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School, "Across the country, teachers are working to change the world for and with our young people. It's essential that this work is sustainable and attractive to diverse, talented, passionate educators."

Areas of support include:

Relevant, rigorous, highly-effective teacher training programs

  • Bank Street Graduate School of Education: To train teacher candidates in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Residency Program in New York to address the intellectual, linguistic and emotional strengths and needs of students learning English.
  • Marian University’s Klipsch Educators College: To train future educators through in-classroom residencies and create a loan forgiveness program with the goal of increasing the diversity of the teaching workforce.

Leadership development for educators

  • Boston Collegiate Charter School Foundation: To support the launch of the new Fund for Teaching Excellence, an effort to increase teacher-led innovation.
  • Profound Gentlemen: To expand its model to provide increased support, coaching and programming for male educators of color prepared to assume leadership positions in and out of the classroom.
  • Teach Plus: To build the capacity and elevate the voices of educators in California, Indiana and Texas.

Innovative strategies and programs to advance educator diversity

  • NewSchools Venture Fund: To launch a $3.5 million competitive funding opportunity to diversify the PreK-12 teaching profession. Up to 14 concepts or early-stage organizations with bold ideas will be eligible for $200,000 on average in funding.
  • Digital Promise: To expand work with public charter schools and districts to design innovative solutions to the challenge of attracting and retaining a more diverse teacher workforce through convenings, new research and the creation of a Teacher of Color Advisory Council.

“Teach Plus is proud to partner with the Walton Family Foundation to elevate the teaching profession and support diverse and talented teachers to exercise their voice and leadership toward change, in their schools and in their statehouse. When teachers lead, students thrive,” said Roberto J. Rodríguez, Teach Plus President and CEO.

This giving builds on the foundation’s longtime support for teacher pipelines across the country. With more than $180 million in foundation support over the last 25 years, Teach For America has recruited, supported and trained more than 60,000 educators in regions across the country. Half of Teach For America’s educators identify as people of color, making it one of the most diverse sources of public school teachers in the country, and nearly 85% of alumni work in fields that impact students in low-income communities.

The foundation is also the nation’s largest philanthropic school startup funder, supporting the creation of more than 2,350 charter, district and private schools since 1997. The majority of these grants support current and former educators who start schools to meet the unique needs of their community’s children.

Among other efforts to honor and lift teachers' voices, the foundation’s Teachers Inspire series highlights the talented professionals who are inspiring students across the U.S. Hear directly from teachers at

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2018, the foundation awarded more than $595 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.