Walton Foundation to Organize Gulf Restoration

The Walton Family Foundation recently launched a campaign to focus business support for restoration projects around the Gulf of Mexico. In line with the rest of the foundation's environment philanthropy, the Gulf campaign will hinge on "conservationomics" — the idea that environmental and economic health go hand in hand. The campaign, Operation 1-1-1, is focused on educating and empowering local communities to ensure federal restoration dollars are spent appropriately.

Operation 1-1-1, inspired by the phrase "One Cause, One Coastline, One Chance," hinges on funding from the recently passed RESTORE Act. A piece of federal legislation, the RESTORE Act aims to hold accountable those responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil spill — and to use the penalties accrued for restoration of the gulf. Operation 1-1-1 wants to ensure the large sums of money about to arrive are invested in programs that improve the environmental, economic, and community benefits to the region.

Operation 1-1-1 lists several focus areas that it believes would help Gulf communities. These include restoring coastal habitat and oyster reefs, focusing on sustainable fisheries, protecting vulnerable marine species, enhancing ecosystem monitoring and research, and updating stormwater infrastructure. The campaign has a fairly broad focus, and it is not entirely clear how the Walton Family Foundation plans on accomplishing its goals. Currently the focus appears to be on mobilizing individuals and communities to contact their city councils and representatives asking for improved coastal care.

In launching the campaign, the Walton Family Foundation collected stories and videos from residents that depend on the gulf for their livelihoods. Operation 1-1-1 will, as it grows, provide a forum for Gulf Coast residents to support and take action through the campaign website and social media.

Grantees should take note of Operation 1-1-1 as it develops and grows. The campaign certainly reflects the Walton Family Foundation's environmental interests, and grantees may be able to hop in on these Gulf opportunities. Although the campaign focuses on using RESTORE Act funds, grantees may be able to find an angle to get in on foundation funds by strengthening the goals of Operation 1-1-1. The bottom line, though, is that the Walton Family Foundation certainly appears to be committed to bridging marine health and smart economics.