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Milestones and Lessons Learned

Celebrating milestones from our five-year 2020 Strategic Plan
Opportunities to Learn
Big social and environmental change takes time. Sometimes decades. Even generations.

At the Walton Family Foundation, we understand the patience and resolve required to build lasting solutions, ones that create access to opportunity for people and communities over the long term. But we also recognize the need to make a difference today.

Over the last five years, the foundation has worked to improve the lives of people and communities through K-12 education, ocean and river conservation and building quality of life in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Delta.

With our grantees and partners – who poured their expertise, passion and sweat into this work – we marked major milestones together.

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Every Day Matters
At the Walton Family Foundation, we believe lasting change starts with the people and communities closest to the challenges.
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Flashcards: Impact by the Numbers
Highlights from our 2020 Strategic Plan

Big Change Takes Time

Five years can seem insignificant when tackling big social and environmental challenges, but five years matters. As much as we want to change systems for the better and in ways that last for generations, at the end of the day, it’s about people – each teacher, farmer, fisher, artist or entrepreneur helped along the way.

Making a Difference Today

Every day matters. To the parent of a kindergartener struggling in school. To a community along a coast disappearing into the ocean by the minute. To an entrepreneur risking everything to chase a dream.

That is why the foundation tackles these challenges by planning our work in five-year cycles, to approach change with urgency, while also learning and adapting solutions for the future.

Working for Change Tomorrow

These milestones are only possible because of the tireless commitment from leaders and innovators in the communities where we work. Every day for the past five years, we have learned from them.

Milestones
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2016

The foundation commits $250 million to support ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries in Indonesia and the Americas

The Building Equity Initiative launches

Students at Ascend Learning schools in New York City have benefited from renovated facilities made possible through financing from the Facilities Investment Fund, part of the Building Equity Initiative.

Quality of Life Survey reveals 95% of residents surveyed are happy with Northwest Arkansas

Support for YouthForce NOLA connects New Orleans charter high schools to the business community, the foundation’s first grant in support of new pathways to college and career

2017

Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation launch $6 million effort to diversify art museum leadership

Thaden School and Brightwater: The Center for the Study of Food open in Bentonville, Arkansas

United States and Mexico sign Minute 323, a Colorado River water use agreement

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Louisiana Coastal Master Plan is approved

Outdoor magazine identifies Bentonville, Arkansas, as one of the top outdoor towns, highlighting it as the best town to ride singletrack past world-class art

Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) partners with Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS) to bring a new high-quality school to Ward 8 in Washington, D.C.

2018

Northwest Arkansas Vitality Report shows benefits of philanthropic investment and need for affordable housing options

Two new nonprofit lending funds – FIF and EFF – launch to increased access to facilities funding for public charter schools

Studies show bicycling provides $137 million in economic benefits to Northwest Arkansas

$100 million in grants awarded to support diverse and innovative school models and leaders

2019

TRUE Northwest Arkansas launches to advance diversity, equity and inclusion

$20 million in grants awarded to support, retain and increase the diversity of educators nationwide

National Parents Union launches with seed funding from the foundation

State leaders and communities unite to sign the Drought Contingency Plan to conserve water in the Colorado River Basin

Water conservation pilot projects on Colorado River tributaries can help farms and ranches and increase supply throughout the basin.

Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) launches to connect, support and develop Northwest Arkansas’ arts and culture community

2020

Coler Mountain Bike Preserve opens in Bentonville

Plug and Play opens in Northwest Arkansas to bring innovative startups from around the world to the region

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-led public-private partnership leverages $1.25 million grant to generate $30 million in additional funding in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley

The Momentary opens in Bentonville

The Momentary opened in February, 2020 in a renovated former cheese factory in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Walton Family Foundation responds to the COVID-19 crisis with grants totaling $35 million

A new poll shows Americans see an urgent need to protect water amid climate change

Northwest Arkansas is ranked in the top 10 places to live by U.S. News & World Report for the fifth consecutive year

VELA Education Fund, a co-funding effort with the Charles Koch Institute, distributes $2.4 million to more than 260 entrepreneurs, parents and educators across the country to support learning in the COVID-19 era