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

September 23, 2011
Unique Year Highlighted By Grants to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Includes Grants in Delta Region, Northwest 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.