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Our History

We are a family-led foundation

Sam and Helen Walton moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1950 to open a five and dime store, and their passion for retail later led to the creation of Walmart. In 1987, Walmart celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Sam and Helen established the Walton Family Foundation.

Sam and Helen

They envisioned the foundation as a bond to strengthen and bring their family together, children and grandchildren across generations, to find lasting solutions to big challenges.

Today, several generations of the descendants of our founders and their spouses work together to lead the foundation.

Helen had a favorite saying: "It is not what you gather in life, it's what you scatter in life that tells the kind of life you have lived." That spirit of giving has guided the foundation in its philanthropy over the past three decades.

Family meetings once held in Sam and Helen’s living room now happen in foundation offices. Our Board of Directors is composed entirely of family members who lead our strategic approach to philanthropy.

They hold a belief people can accomplish anything with opportunity and encouragement. As we move forward in a changing world, the foundation and its partners work to broaden these pathways to opportunity and remove barriers in its way.

March 23, 2018
Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation.
We celebrate 30 years as a family foundation by applauding those innovators who think big to solve big problems
March 23, 2018
Big change can take decades, even generations, to realize. For these changes to endure, the hard work that gets us there must be innovative, inclusive and guided by the people and communities closest to the complex challenges we face. Across our work, we look, listen, learn and lead to create opportunity and achieve true impact.