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.
In Northwest Arkansas, the foundation’s steady support for arts and culture, education, entrepreneurship and urban design has played an important role in preserving the region’s unique sense of place.
This has confirmed that Northwest Arkansas has unlimited potential – and reinforced our commitment to the core strategies that guide our philanthropy.
For the past decade, the foundation has worked to enhance the region’s distinctive natural and built environment, improve water quality and create an extensive network of natural-surface trails and paved paths. Over the past five years, the foundation has preserved more than 1,700 acres of green space and restored more than 18,000 feet of streambank.
Between 2012 and 2017, more than 77 miles of natural-surface trails and 35 miles of multi-purpose paved paths were built.
In 2017, bicycling generated $137 million in economic benefits to Northwest Arkansas. Between 2015 and 2017, cyclist trail usage rose 24% and pedestrian trail usage jumped by 10%.
A recent report captures the foundation’s impact on Northwest Arkansas downtowns, which continue to see strong population growth and increased demand for residential and commercial development.
Our support for arts and culture has improved access and increased the diversity of the region’s cultural ecosystem. The number of performances at key cultural institutions has risen by more than 30% over the past four years and attendance has doubled. Notably, Home Region’s giving has targeted underrepresented audiences and supported organizations building partnerships with the growing Latinx community, rural residents and low-income populations.
Foundation investments have also supported an entrepreneurial culture in the region, which has seen an 8% increase in regional businesses. From 2012-2017, more than 600 jobs were created by businesses that worked with entrepreneurial support organizations funded by the foundation.
The foundation’s investments in preschool and K-12 education are helping create a competitive system of traditional district, public charter and independent schools. At four of six area public charter schools, students achieved stronger academic growth than the regional average. At Rogers Public Schools, the Rogers Honors Academy is helping students gain the skills and support needed for acceptance into top-ranked colleges.
In the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta, we are expanding high-quality Pre-K-12 school options, working to improve public safety and developing new opportunities for young people facing challenging economic circumstances.
Public charter school enrollment in the Delta has grown more than 30 percent in the last four years and the number of youth attending after-school programs in Coahoma County, Mississippi and Phillips County, Arkansas has increased since 2015. Organizations like Griot Arts, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, provide academic support and foster creativity through the arts.
The foundation is also supporting targeted job creation, working with Southern Bancorp Community Partners to provide much-needed capital to small businesses in the Delta and investing in cultural tourism through the Clarksdale Collective in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Across Northwest Arkansas, and in the Delta, these achievements provide inspiration to continue working with community partners to build a prosperous future.