A Look at the Windgate Charitable Foundation’s Giving in Arkansas and Beyond

Overall, this is a funder that maintains a strong local focus on Arkansas and aims to impact higher education and economic development in the state. More than anything else, this is an arts and crafts funder. But it’s also been a big supporter of public schools, and extended its support to schools in North Carolina, Louisiana, and Oklahoma too.

Windgate doesn’t have a foundation website or a clear way to get in touch and apply for grants. However, we can’t help but notice how often this funder makes the news for its big gifts. Let’s take a quick look at Windgate’s giving in Arkansas and beyond.

Arkansas Giving

Windgate continues to make headlines in the past with multi-million dollar local arts grants, such as the $15.5 million one to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith for its visual arts facility. That particular facility is being used for graphic design laboratories, photography space, painting, sculpting, and art history.

Another big arts project was the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Windgate funded a distance education project with this group, which developed online high school credit courses and new networks for classroom access through the Arkansas Department of Education and other platforms. This has been especially appealing in rural and low-income school districts.

Windgate also made the news when it awarded a $500,000 matching grant to the Thea Foundation, based in North Little Rock, Arkansas. This grant went towards scholarships for students interested in pursuing art careers. Foundation money has helped interns work at the University of Central Arkansas Baum Gallery of Fine Arts. Last fall, the funder gave $1.5 million to North Little Rock-based Pulaski Technical College to furnish and equip the college's new Center for Humanities and Arts.

But this funder is interested in more than just art in Arkansas. Facility upgrades and improvements are a big part of this funder’s overall strategy. Also earlier this year, it gave a $50,000 challenge matching grant to Comprehensive Juvenile Services to construct a new youth shelter at Chaffee Crossing. This Fort Smith-based nonprofit agency provides services to delinquent and at-risk youth in seven counties of western Arkansas.

Beyond Arkansas

But in regards to arts and crafts education funding and otherwise, the Windgate Charitable Foundation doesn’t limit itself to supporting just one state. The Windgate Fellowship Awards, which are among the most prestigious and sought-after awards for emerging craft artists in the U.S., are awarded nationally upon the recommendations of over 100 universities across the country. Past winners have specialized in wood furniture, jewelry making, fiber and textiles, ceramics, sculpture, and book arts. These winners attended schools in many different states, including California, Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island.

Windgate has supported the Mid-America Arts Alliance, based in Kansas City, Missouri and the Brookfield Craft Center in Brookfield, Connecticut to expand its Good Forge Blacksmithing program. To further show its support for the niche craft market, it’s been involved with the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a town known for its craft culture, and Windgate continues to be active here. For example, it gave a $500,000 grant to help UNC Asheville students move into an equip a new space at the River Arts Makers Market earlier this year.

Otherwise, in terms of higher education, the foundation funded a $3 million dorm revamp at John Brown University with a challenge grant. To learn more about how this funder operates, in lieu of a helpful foundation website, check out IP’s profile of the Windgate Charitable Foundation.