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Walton Family Foundation: Research Universities Catalyst to Economic Growth, On and Off Campus in Heartland and Beyond

September 25, 2018

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (September 26, 2018) – Whether it is workforce development or startup companies, the Walton Family Foundation today released new research, “How Do Research Universities Contribute to Regional Economies?” outlining the critical role research universities play in growing local and regional economies across America’s Heartland and beyond. Read the research here.

“The potential for research universities across America is so great and we need strong cohesion between the on-campus and off-campus efforts to maximize that potential,” said Ross DeVol, the lead researcher and a Fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. “Research universities can serve as a catalyst for economic growth and stability but can go even further with strong collaboration with the local and regional communities.”

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The research outlines five key areas for collaboration, including operations; human capital; licensing and academic startup activity; business and economic engagement pathways; and enhancing the quality of place through social capital building interactions with their communities.

DeVol’s research is part of a one-year tenure at the foundation, where he will assess opportunities for regional innovation ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for Middle America residents. He will also work with universities and colleges, the business community and philanthropy to analyze resources that support the startup community and identify workforce and talent gaps. Learn more about DeVol here.

About the Walton Fellows Program
The Walton Fellows Program is term-limited, with up to one year in residence. Fellows are responsible for internal and external thought leadership and will conduct research and/or build/improve processes on behalf of the programs of the foundation. This program does not accept unsolicited applications.

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, 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 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.