Walton Family Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Walton does not have a program focused specifically on higher education, but the foundation's past funding clearly shows that postsecondary organizations have a role to play in pursuing its goals. 

IP TAKE: Many Walton grants are by invitation only, its Environment and Home Region programs have geographic restrictions. Higher education institutions consistently receive support through its programs in K-12 Education, support for the Waltons' Home Region, and protection of the environment. Walton is less likely to fund progressive causes or education.

PROFILE: Started by Wal-Mart founders Sam and Helen Walton and currently run by their grandchildren, the Walton Family Foundation is rooted in the “belief in the power of individuals to transform their lives” and focuses on large-scale “transformative” grants to realize that possibility. Within that broad context, the foundation has three main funding areas: K-12 Education, Environment, and Home Region, which serves “northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta.”

Another key area for Walton is its Environment program, which supports higher education initiatives “that pursue lasting conservation solutions for oceans and rivers while also recognizing the role these waters play in the livelihoods of those who live and work nearby.” The two initiatives it utilizes for this program are Freshwater Conservation, directed at efforts specific to “the Colorado and Mississippi River Basins,” and Marine Conservation, which gives grants that foster “economic incentives for sustainable resource management in some of the world’s most ecologically rich ocean areas.”

Finally, Walton’s Home Region program works “to invest in programs and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for people living in Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta Region.” In Arkansas, funding priorities include pre-K education, arts and culture, economic development, and “[p]reserv[ing] a [s]ense of [p]lace.” In the Mississippi Delta, the focus is on Pre-K-12 education, Public Safety, Youth Engagement, and Job Creation. In one recent year several Arkansas colleges and universities received varying levels of Walton support, including awards to several branches of the University of Arkansas.

Grants range in the thousands to tens of thousands. The Walton Foundation does not have a public grants database, but information on select grantees is available on the foundation’s Grantee Stories page.

The foundation does not accept for its Public Charter Startup Program; however, grantseekers may submit a letter of inquiry. Instructions and contact information for sending your letter are available here

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