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NPR Receives Grant from the Walton Family Foundation

January 23, 2024
$1M grant will support NPR, its Collaborative Journalism Network and the Gulf States Newsroom

January 23, 2024; Washington, D.C. - NPR announced today it has received a $1M grant from the Walton Family Foundation that will support the expansion of the Collaborative Journalism Network, audience research and environmental justice coverage and community engagement efforts at the Gulf States Newsroom (GSN).

“Over the past three years, the Gulf States Newsroom has grown into a strong reporting team that works with stations to fill news deserts across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana,” said Priska Neely, Managing Editor, Gulf States Newsroom. “This funding will allow us to develop deeper connections through focused community engagement reporting, which will inevitably lead to more important coverage. We’ve worked hard to build this newsroom and it’s so exciting to have the support to keep it going.”

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Heather Chappell
Senior Communications Officer

“We are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for this grant. It is precisely this type of bold investment in public media that will allow them to grow in ways that are responsive to the needs of their communities,” said NPR’s Chief Development Officer Leora Hanser. “With strategic philanthropic investment like this, we can rapidly increase the breadth and depth of public media’s local journalism, while helping strong, local news ecosystems to thrive.”

“Philanthropy can play an important role in ensuring that newsrooms have the resources they need so that communities have the information they need,” said Walton Family Foundation Communications Director Daphne Moore. “Grants to news organizations ensure reporters have the resources to go where the facts take them.”

A portion of this grant from the Walton Family Foundation in 2024 will help fund the Gulf States’ Newsroom’s coverage of environmental justice issues and its community engagement efforts. Working in close collaboration, the GSN’s environmental justice reporting will supplement reporting from WWNO’s Coastal Desk – which focuses on energy and climate change in South Louisiana – by prioritizing coverage of rural communities across the region that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and often disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards. The GSN is investing heavily in bolstering community engagement in 2024 by adding a community engagement producer/editor to support the newly hired community engagement reporter. This kind of community engagement work is most effective when it's locally-focused and grounded in the stories and issues affecting communities in the Gulf.

In February 2020, public media stations WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama; Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson, Mississippi; WWNO in New Orleans and WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and NPR, came together to launch the Gulf States Newsroom. Since then as local news outlets shutter across the region, the collaboration among WBHM Birmingham, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WWNO New Orleans, WRKF Baton Rouge and NPR has offered a free source of coverage to an historically under-reported region while also serving as a critical training ground for gifted and diverse journalists. The Gulf States Newsroom, along with the Midwest Newsroom, the Texas Newsroom and the California Newsroom are part of the NPR Collaborative Journalism Network. Read more about the future of public radio journalism here.

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About NPR

NPR's rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member organizations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (, and now it's easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, "Play NPR," and you'll be tuned into your local Member station's live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, LinkedIn, Threads, and Instagram.