Walmart: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Walmart Foundation focuses its higher education grantmaking on creating opportunity, sustainability and community. It does not have a specific higher education program, but institutions may be eligible for funding through research and other initiatives. The foundation also makes postsecondary scholarships available to children of its Associates, offers modest postsecondary funding through its community grants, and has a matching funds program for nonprofits that its employees support.

IP TAKE: Walmart, Inc. and the Walmart Foundation, prioritize expanding access and creating opportunity through job training and scholarships. Application deadlines vary by program.

PROFILE: A separate entity from the Walton Family Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, the direct philanthropic arm of its corporate sister, seeks to “create opportunities so people can live better” and to “make a positive impact in the communities we serve.” Its reach is broad and substantial. According to its website, in one recent year, the foundation and corporation combined gave over $300 million in cash contributions as well as about $1 billion in in-kind donations across the globe. Like the Walton Family Foundation, neither Walmart nor the Walmart Foundation has a specific program dedicated to higher education. Its three main focus areas are called Opportunity, Sustainability, and Community.

The area most directly associated with higher education appears to be Opportunity, which seeks to “create opportunities for the general population, especially women, veterans and small business owners.” In recent years, Walmart gave funding that sometimes reached into the low millions per year, with major funding going to the American Association of Community Colleges’ “Job Ready, Willing and Able” initiative, a collaboration of select community colleges “with local employers to provide unemployed individuals with training and access to middle-skill jobs,” according to the Foundation Center.

Walmart is funds higher education through postsecondary scholarships. Past grantees include the American Indian College Fund, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the United Negro College Fund. On a smaller scale, Walmart also provides individual scholarship opportunities, but these are only available to Walmart employees (eligible for up to $16,000 paid over 6 years) and their dependents (eligible for up to $13,000 paid over 4 years).

For higher education organizations whose reach extends to the state level, nonprofits (including universities) may apply for grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 through the Spark Communities Program. Applicant organizations must “serve unmet needs of low-income, underserved populations within the state or region for which they are applying.”

Lastly, through Walmart’s Community program, educational institutions from Pre-K through the university level may apply for funds ranging from $250 to $2,500 directly from a local Walmart, Sam’s Club, or Logistics. In this case, the grantseeker’s higher education program should “benefit communities within the service area” of the store in question, and should also mesh with a “core giving” area of Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women's Economic Empowerment, or Career Opportunity.

The Walmart Foundation is not transparent about its grantmaking habits and does not have a public grants database. Visit the Apply for Grants for more information about currently available opportunities.

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