The Walton Family Foundation Assessment

For Immediate Release

New Report: The Walton Family Foundation’s $375M in Market-Oriented Grants Is a Hit for the Environment, But a Miss for Education

Philamplify assessment by NCRP invites public feedback about its recommendations 

Washington, D.C. (5/5/15) Today, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released a comprehensive report analyzing the grantmaking of the Walton Family Foundationwff_image (WFF), as part of its Philamplify initiative to maximize the positive impact of philanthropy on our communities. “Walton Family Foundation: How Can This Market-Oriented Grantmaker Advance Community-Led Solutions for Greater Equity?” found that while the foundation’s market-based approach has achieved great wins in its freshwater and marine conservation programs, its charter school-focused educational programs tend to overlook system-wide improvements that can benefit a broader community of underserved students.

A complementary Philamplify video on the Walton Family Foundation builds on the report by capturing the differences in the foundation’s approach to its environment and education programs and how they continue to affect New Orleans residents years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

The Walton Family Foundation was established by Sam and Helen Walton, the founders of Walmart, and is still completely family-run. It is one of the country’s largest foundations with $2.3 billion in assets. In 2014, it gave out more than $375 million in grants.

“The Walton Family Foundation is one of the most influential philanthropies in the country and with its resources it can be more ambitious about its impact,” said Lisa Ranghelli, director of foundation assessment at NCRP. “I believe that our recommendations will help boost the foundation’s impact in ways that strengthen equity and empower local communities to solve tough challenges.”

In addition to its education and environment programs, the assessment’s findings show that the foundation is deeply committed to its home regions of Northwest Arkansas and the Delta. WFF is increasingly open to new ideas and community input, but must continue to increase transparency and responsiveness, such as through the special interest grants directed by board members.

The report’s recommendations include continuing the foundation’s generous funding practices and more explicitly prioritizing equity and community involvement. For instance, the foundation can work with parents, students, teachers and education officials to collaboratively identify ways to improve school performance.

“Overall, I have valued the learning opportunity presented through this process. Much of what we do and how we interact with our grantees was affirmed, and we found several areas where we need to expand our work or improve upon current processes,” says Buddy Philpot, executive director of Walton Family Foundation, in a written statement. He also notes specific areas of disagreement with how NCRP conducted the assessment.

As part of its efforts to promote mutual accountability, transparency and knowledge sharing, the full report, “Walton Family Foundation: How Can This Market-Oriented Grantmaker Advance Community-Led Solutions for Greater Equity?,” which includes all findings and concrete recommendations for WFF, is available for free on NCRP is encouraging readers to share their feedback about the assessment or the foundation.

About Philamplify

Conducted by top-notch researchers, Philamplify’s foundation assessments provide a comprehensive examination of a foundation’s grantmaking and operations. The reports incorporate feedback received from the foundation’s key stakeholders and offer recommendations designed to maximize foundation effectiveness. users can comment on and agree or disagree with these recommendations and nominate foundations they want “philamplified.”

In addition to WFF, NCRP has released reports on The California Endowment, Daniels Fund, the Lumina Foundation for Education, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and William Penn Foundation. Additional assessments covering other top-100 U.S. foundations will roll out in the coming months.

About NCRP

Since 1976, NCRP has served as the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in philanthropy. Through research and advocacy, NCRP works to ensure that philanthropy contributes in meaningful ways to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world. Visit for more information.


For interviews with Lisa Ranghelli, NCRP Executive Director Aaron Dorfman and Philamplify researchers, please contact Yna Moore at (202) 557-1381 and