The Walton Family Foundation has launched a new collaborative effort to support people and communities in the Delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi, an initiative that will focus on three key areas: education and youth engagement, economic asset building for individuals and families, and high-impact coalition building. The plan is reportedly part of Strategy 2025, the foundation’s five-year commitment to tackle tough social and environmental problems, and a long-term approach to expand access to opportunity.
The Walton Family Foundation is a family-led foundation, made up of three generations of the Walton family who work together to create access to opportunity for people and communities. The Foundation works in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in its home region of Northwest Arkansas as well as the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.
“Every community is different, and so are the challenges they face—which is why following local leadership and vision is critical,” said Annie Proietti, Walton Family Foundation board chair. “We recognize that building a vibrant, equitable Delta won’t happen by going it alone. Realizing this vision means joining with partners and supporting one another toward shared goals.”
The Foundation will help lay the groundwork for a new generation of success by investing in the educator workforce, unlocking college and career pathways and improving access to educational options. With an emphasis on closing the region’s inequities, the Foundation will also look for ways to provide residents with resources needed to build financial security through economic asset building and boost upward mobility by offering workforce development and career training to strengthen small businesses. Finally, the Foundation will build coalitions of local, regional and national partners to develop the next generation of community leaders and achieve greater equity and opportunity in the area.
The Walton Family Foundation has a track record of working with communities in Phillips County, Ark. and Coahoma County, Miss. to advance opportunity in the Delta. Through this new strategy, the Foundation is expanding its efforts in the region to Jefferson County, Ark.
The Foundation has also recruited local leader Abe Hudson as a program officer focused on the Delta region. Hudson currently calls Clarksdale, Miss. home and will spend time facilitating new partnerships across the region. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was a Mississippi state representative and worked with Delta State University as a visiting professor in the College of Business and Aviation. He also served as a program director at the Debt Education for Business Transformation and Sustainability (DEBTS) Program.