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Walton Family Foundation Invests $8 Million in StudentsFirst

April 30, 2013
Significant increase in support to fuel expanded presence and increase in membership

BENTONVILLE, Ark., April 30, 2013 -- The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it is significantly increasing its support for StudentsFirst with an $8 million investment over two years. StudentsFirst will help promote public policies that empower all parents to choose among high-quality, publicly funded educational options for their children. The Walton Family Foundation invests in programs and organizations that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education.

"Across the country, millions of parents are now empowered with the opportunity to choose strong publicly funded schools of all types – public charter schools, district and private schools serving students on public scholarships – for their children. However, too many parents still do not have access to great educational options," said Ed Kirby, deputy director of the foundation's K-12 education reform efforts. "StudentsFirst is well positioned to help empower parents with the information and policies they need to choose from more high-quality schools of all types."

The foundation has invested $3 million in StudentsFirst since fall, 2010. In this time, the organization has helped local coalitions support dozens of strong K-12 education policies across its now 18 target states. StudentsFirst has also developed the StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card, a powerful public policy tool that is becoming a point of reference for policymakers and education advocates across the country. The Report Card is a national ranking of where each of the 50 states stands relative to a comprehensive range of high-quality K-12 education policies that empower students and families, promote great teachers and invest tax-payer dollars wisely.

"Parents across the nation are clamoring for better choices for their kids. Too many parents have nowhere to turn when their neighborhood school is failing," said Michelle Rhee, Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst. "Thanks to the Walton Family Foundation's investment, we will continue to help families secure the exceptional education their kids deserve. On behalf of the two million members of StudentsFirst who are fighting for change, I thank the Walton Family Foundation for their unrelenting focus on ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education."

StudentsFirst is actively working to grow its membership and institute student-centric state policies in the majority of the Walton Family Foundation's 16 investment sites – regions where the foundation invests to improve existing schools, create high-quality schools and shape public policy in order to positively impact the broader school system.