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2017 Annual Report

Where Opportunity Takes Root

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.

30 Years of Collaboration
  • A Message from Executive Director Kyle Peterson
    Helen Walton had a favorite saying: "It's not what you gather in life, but what you scatter in life that tells the kind of life you have lived." That spirit of giving has guided the Walton Family Foundation in its philanthropy over the past three decades. Our vision is to live in a world where people can accomplish anything when they have opportunity and encouragement.
    A Message from the Executive Director
    A Message from Executive Director Kyle Peterson
  • Hope Grows from Collaboration
    Thirty years ago, my grandparents started the Walton Family Foundation to encourage our family to come together to give back. A lot has changed over the past three decades – the foundation has grown and so has our family. Social and environmental problems intensify daily, and we live in a time of increasing uncertainty and decreasing trust. Our desire to create access to opportunity for people and communities is now more important than ever.
Who We Are
About the Walton Family Foundation
The foundation tackles tough social and environmental problems with urgency and a long-term approach. In this video, the children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, share stories about the foundation’s origins and their commitment to the vision and values that guide its work.
  • Family Voices: Where Opportunity Takes Root
    Overview video promo 2018
    Family Voices: Where Opportunity Takes Root
  • Board of Directors
    The Walton Family Foundation is led by the descendants of its
    founders, Sam and Helen Walton.
    Carrie Walton Penner
    Carrie Walton Penner
    Board Chair
    Alice Walton
    Alice Walton
    Board Member
    Rob Walton
    Rob Walton
    Board Member
    Lukas Walton
    Lukas Walton
    Board Member
    James Walton headshot WFF
    James Walton
    Board Member
  • Our Values
    • Alice Walton_Quote_Rooted
    • Ben Walton_Family Quote_Active
    • Family Quote_Carrie Walton Penner_Steady
2017 Grants
  • 2017 Grants
    2017 Grants
    $535.5 million in grants awarded in 2017.
    • K-12 Education ($192.7 million)
    • Environment ($86 million)
    • Home Region ($59.9 million)
    • Special Projects ($196.9 million)
  • Giving by Program
    • Environment: $86 million
      Environment: $86 million
      • Oceans ($38.5 million)
      • Colorado River ($21.5 million)
      • Mississippi River ($12 million)
      • Coastal Conservation ($12 million)
      • Innovation & Research ($2 million)
    • Home Region: $59.9 million
      Home Region: $59.9 million
      • Northwest Arkansas ($52.5 million))
      • Delta Region ($6.8 million)
      • Research and Evaluation ($0.6 million)
    • K-12 Education: $192.7 million
      K-12 Education: $192.7 million
      • Investing in Cities ($100.9 million)
      • High-Quality Schools ($73.8 million)
      • Innovation ($11 million)
      • Research & Evaluation ($7 million)
Our Impact
  • 30 Years of Impact
    No one ever solved big problems by thinking small. Creating lasting change in society requires leaders driven by a spirit of innovation, a curiosity to explore what is possible and an urgent willingness to be bold where others are cautious. It’s how we seed success – it’s how opportunity takes root.
    Number of School Startup Grants Awarded
    fisheries certified as sustainable over the past 20 years
    miles of Northwest Arkansas trails funded
    total grantmaking since 1987
    number of grantees since 1987
    acres of farmland under more sustainable agriculture practices in 2017
    in economic benefits from bicycling in Northwest Arkansas in 2017
    acres of bottomland hardwood forests restored in lower Mississippi River basin since 2009
    Visitors to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art since 2011
    of New Orleans charter schools have significantly more positive reading gains than district peers
  • Milestones
    Show the timeline
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    Walton Family Foundation is established


    Annual giving reaches

    $1.4 million

    Foundation awards its first public charter startup grant


    Walton Arts Center opens in Fayetteville, Arkansas

    Helen Walton and Billie Jo Starr - Opening Day at Walton Arts Center


    Children’s Scholarship Fund is launched

    Annual giving surpasses

    $50 million


    KIPP Delta opens its first school in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas


    Annual giving exceeds

    $100 million


    $5.1 million

    grant awarded to Marine Stewardship Council


    Annual giving reaches

    $200 million


    First mountain bike trails are built in Bentonville, Arkansas


    First grant to a school district – Denver Public Schools – for high-quality schools


    Foundation supports Washington, D.C. Public Schools IMPACT program


    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opens


    Foundation staff grows to

    75 people

    Razorback Regional Greenway opens in Northwest Arkansas


    Building Equity Initiative launches

    School Children Cheerful Variation Concept

    Walton Family Foundation governance changes to include a board chair and five board members


    Foundation staff grows to

    124 people

    $2.1 million

    invested in Atlanta Public Schools’ Turnaround Strategy

    The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan is approved

    Mexico, U.S. sign Minute 323, a new Colorado River water use agreement

    Annual giving exceeds

    $500 million

  • Our Environment Program
    The foundation’s environment work grew out of the Walton family’s strong connection to the outdoors. We focus on protecting oceans and rivers and the livelihoods they support, for the benefit of people and the environment.
    Environment video promo.png
    Our Environment Program
  • Sustaining a Healthy Environment and Healthy Communities
    At the Walton Family Foundation, we are working on finding solutions that sustain a healthy environment and healthy communities. We believe the key to systemic change comes through collaboration. In 2017, we witnessed what is possible when people, communities, businesses and governments work together.
  • Building Partnerships to Restore the Gulf Lede
    When Sandy Nguyen was growing up along the Gulf Coast in the 1990s, she remembers playing football on an open field in the fishing community of Buras, Louisiana. Today, that area is covered by water - evidence of the land loss crisis Sandy is working to stop.
    Lede Two Nations One River.JPG
    In 2017, the United States and Mexico struck a nine-year deal, known as Minute 323, to increase water security for Colorado River users on both sides of the border. The signing of Minute 323 was a big win for the Colorado River, which faces an annual water deficit that threatens supply to almost 40 million people.
Home Region
  • Our Home Region Program
    The Walton family honors its history by building opportunity in its home region – because these are the communities where Sam and Helen Walton first found opportunity.
    Home region video promo.png
    Our Home Region Program
  • Rooted in a Legacy of Giving
    The foundation’s roots in Northwest Arkansas and the Delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi run deep. We invest in bold ideas that improve quality of life and generate economic
    opportunity for their residents.
  • Promoting New Artists Promo
    The Latinx Theatre Project is giving a new voice to the region’s growing immigrant community. The arts organization is reaching underserved audiences of color with entertaining, culturally relevant theater.
    Celebrating a Perfect Grade Story Lede
    For the first time in its history, every member of Central High School’s graduating class was accepted to college. The accomplishment marked the realization of a goal not only for the students in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, but also for the Delta College Attainment Network.
K-12 Education
  • Our K-12 Education Program
    The Walton family believes the most important thing we can do to give young people the opportunity to succeed is to make sure they have a high-quality education that works for them. The foundation is committed to increasing access to great schools that can transform the lives of children, particularly those in low-income communities.
    K-12 Overview Promo
    Our K-12 Education Program
  • Helping Today’s Students Achieve a Better Tomorrow
    Great schools led by great teachers can transform children’s lives. The foundation’s K-12 Education program is guided by this fundamental belief. We embrace efforts to ensure all families can access high-quality school options, so that a great education — and the opportunities that enables — isn’t just for the lucky few.
  • New Orleans School Students Promo
    Jonathan Johnson knows what success looks like for his students at Rooted School in New Orleans. It’s not measured merely in higher test scores and graduation rates. It’s measured by a very specific outcome – each Rooted graduate is able to pursue and access every career and educational opportunity they want.
    Innovation in Indianapolis Builds Strong Schools Promo
    When Mariama Carson launched Global Preparatory Academy in 2016, it marked the culmination of years of hard work – and the realization of the Indianapolis educator’s dream to teach children in both English and Spanish.