Windgate Charitable Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This Arkansas funder supports art education, K-12 education, higher education, Christian higher education, human services, Christian and marriage family relationships, children and youth.

FUNDING AREAS: Art education, arts & crafts, K-12 education, higher education, Christian higher education, human services, Christian and marriage family relationships, children and youth.

IP TAKE: This foundation has a favoritism towards craft arts, which is a very rare niche funding area. Any projects with a Christian angle may be favored too.

PROFILE: Based in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, the Windgate Charitable Foundation is a family foundation established in 1993. Much of the foundation is comprised of donations of Walmart stock acquired by the family over many years. 

This is a foundation that supports art education projects, K-12 school improvement programs, higher education initiatives, programs to strengthen family relationships, and human service programs. It primarily focuses on promoting art and craft education and projects that strengthen marriage and family relationships. Some giving also goes to programs that serve youth and Christian higher education.

More than anything else, this is an arts and education funder. It has made headlines in the past with multi-million dollar local grants, such as the $15.5 million gift 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 support 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 is especially appealing in rural and low-income school districts.

At the end of a past year, the foundation reported over $230 million in assets and more than $57 million in total giving. Grants have been as low as $936 and as high as over $5.3 million in the past. Dive into the funder's past 990 Forms to get a deeper sense of how it awards grants.

Overall, this funder maintains a large local focus on Arkansas and aims to impact higher education and economic development in the state. It’s also been a big supporter of public schools and extended its support to schools in North Carolina, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Some other funding efforts have had a more national focus.

For well over a decade, the foundation has been giving out its Windgate Fellowship Awards, which are among the most prestigious and sought-after awards for emerging craft artists in the U.S. Past winners have specialized in wood furniture, jewelry making, fiber and textiles, ceramics, sculpture, and book arts. Universities around the country are invited to nominate graduating seniors to support their crafts and further innovations in the field of craft arts. This is a very rare funding niche that Windgate clearly specializes in. Ten of these fellowships of $15,000 each are awarded each year.

Grant applications are accepted all throughout the year, but try to get yours in by March 1, July 1, or October for consideration in the next grant cycle. However, Windgate stresses that you should first email the foundation before submitting a full application. The initial inquiry form can be found on the funder's How To Apply page. You can view a list of past grant recipients and financial data here.

John Brown III is the foundation’s executive director, and there are two grants officers on staff. General questions can be directed to the staff at 479-524-9829 or contact@windgatefoundation.org. 

PEOPLE:

  • John E. Brown III, Executive Director
  • Jennifer Haak, Grants Officer 
  • Sarah Losh, Grants Officer 

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