Walmart Foundation and Walton Family Foundation Renew Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Northwest Arkansas


Bentonville, Ark. Oct. 21, 2021 – The Walmart Foundation and Walton Family Foundation are supporting the efforts of Northwest Arkansas nonprofits to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive region. Grants to the University of Arkansas Foundation will allow the IDEALS Institute to provide 100 organizations with professional development, technical assistance and relationship-building opportunities. IDEALS will implement these efforts as the lead of TRUE Northwest Arkansas, a community-based initiative launched in 2018 to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in Benton and Washington counties.

"As an inaugural participant of TRUE, IDEALS knows firsthand the transformational impact these resources have on our community," said Elecia Smith, IDEALS Institute executive director. "We are honored to lead the next stage of the journey by training, recharging and uplifting nonprofits in Northwest Arkansas to implement DEI-focused strategies and plans."

Located within the University of Arkansas’ Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, IDEALS is a professional development, consultancy and research institute. It partners with government agencies, community groups, philanthropic organizations, businesses, public schools and higher education institutions to promote sustainable DEI practices. In 2019, IDEALS participated in TRUE’s 10-month TRAIN cohort, which convened regional organizations from multiple sectors for peer-learning experiences and expert-led coaching sessions.

"The IDEALS Institute and the training and consulting they provide to the community are valuable extensions of our land-grant mission," said Charles Robinson, interim chancellor of the University of Arkansas. "We are committed to fostering a culture of belonging in the communities we are a part of, and the IDEALS Institute and this initiative play a critical role in that effort."

IDEALS will recruit, select and lead five cohorts over two years that both provide participants with practical strategies to advance their DEI journeys and strengthen the efforts of local nonprofits led by or supporting underrepresented communities. As part of the program, the nonprofits will receive funds for technical assistance from Arkansas Community Foundation to support their participation during the two-year process. Walmart Foundation and Walton Family Foundation are providing more than $4.1 million to support the different initiative elements.

The grant to IDEALS is part of Walmart.org’s recent three-year, $5-million commitment to build a culture of belonging in the region.

Through the TRUE initiative, we have begun to see the power of supporting organizations as they deepen their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The IDEALS Institute will continue to build on this work, and their leadership will be critical in advancing a culture of belonging in the region.
Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart

Support from the Walton Family Foundation is part of its 2025 Strategy for the Home Region Program, which envisions Northwest Arkansas as one of the most vibrant and inclusive places to live.

“Working together to enhance DEI practices will develop deeper connections among organizations ensuring everyone feels welcome in Northwest Arkansas,” said Emma Pengelly, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program deputy director. “This effort will forge the partnerships and collaboration needed to create a more vibrant and inclusive community.”

Since 2018, TRUE Northwest Arkansas has provided 50 local organizations with in-depth DEI training. It has also offered funding for DEI-focused nonprofits to directly serve 90,000 residents across the region.

"TRUE Northwest Arkansas helped us identify the infrastructure needed to strengthen our organization," said Diana Gonzales Worthen, director of OneCommunity, a nonprofit working to promote communities coming together to enhance the quality of life of all people. "The learning opportunities provided by this program will advance DEI efforts in Northwest Arkansas through the leadership of our nonprofit community."

About Philanthropy at Walmart

Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 24 countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, advance equity, address hunger, build inclusive economic opportunity for people in supply chains, protect and restore nature, reduce waste and emissions, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.