We seek to make the entire retail industry a place of inclusive mobility, so that people can build a better life for themselves and their families.
Walmart.org invests strategically in strengthening the capacity of the retail sector as a springboard to economic opportunity. We collaborate with leading nonprofits, employers, government agencies, educational institutions and other key funders to identify and implement innovations aimed at increasing mobility for workers.
We launched the Retail Opportunity Initiative in 2015 – an initial five-year, $100 million philanthropic effort geared towards accelerating careers in retail and related sectors. Through systemic investment, we believe these sectors have an opportunity to become a workforce incubator, where upskilling and upward mobility are the norm.
Our philanthropy is focused on three areas: supporting research and insights on best practices to build mobility in retail and adjacent sectors; investing in building effective and innovative approaches to training and advancement; and engaging and collaborating with other employers to help improve the entire ecosystem.
Our Focus Areas
Funding supports research and insights aimed at accelerating the path to success for those who work in retail and related sectors.
The Walmart Foundation’s support of the National Skills Coalition enabled the research and publication of a report on the skill level of frontline retail and service workers. The Coalition found that 62% have limited literacy skills and 74% have limited numeracy skills. These findings can be used to support more training programs.
When frontline workers have access to effective training and ways to signal relevant skills to employers, an entry-level job can be the first step toward a successful career. To help make that a reality, we look to fund programs with innovative approaches to training and credentialing.
The National Immigration Forum leads a training program funded through Walmart. This first-of-its-kind program offers a contextualized English language training program for retail workers. Launched in 2016, in partnership with Miami Dade College and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, the pilot program aimed to help entry-level retail workers with limited English proficiency. The pilot posted a class retention rate of 82% (versus an average of 23% for ESL classes) and a 37% promotion rate. The program is now scaling nationwide.
In order for upskilling and advancement of frontline workers to become the industry norm, some things must change. We look to fund organizations that are working to enable employers, training providers, workforce boards and government agencies to design jobs, programs and practices that support career advancement for frontline workers.
In the workforce space, we aim to support programs that boost cross-sector collaboration in communities. Walmart’s investment in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, for example, helped the program to launch three regional collaboratives aimed at advancing frontline workers in retail. Central Iowa Works, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County and the Baltimore Workforce Funder’s Collaborative are each conducting local labor market analysis of the retail sector, organizing industry partnerships and working with employers to implement new strategies. Successful practices from the three pilot cities will be shared across the National Fund’s network.
Cross-Sector Collaboration Spotlight
Walmart was one of the founding partners of the Rework America Business Network, whose efforts are focused on sharing best practices to increase opportunity. The network consists of eleven major U.S. employers and the Rework America Task Force.
The team at Walmart.org solicits proposals from eligible 501(c)(3) organizations whose work directly relates to the above focus areas in the U.S. Prior to submitting program ideas using the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) format, please review the requirements and guidelines.