Arkansas Business' 25 Philanthropists (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Winthrop Rockefeller, Arkansas governor from 1967-71

The Wal-Mart Foundation tends to make smaller gifts in the communities in which Wal-Mart stores are located. It targets work force development, education, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness.

Helen Walton herself, before her death in 2007, made generous gifts, including $20 million to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville in 2006. And when she died, the family announced that much of her Wal-Mart stock would eventually go to charity.

She and Sam Walton gave $5 million to help build the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, and Sam's brother, Bud, gave $15 million for a new Razorbacks basketball arena, named the Bud Walton Arena.

Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam and Helen, other family members and the family's Charitable Support Foundation have spent millions of dollars to build Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and to acquire art to display there. When it opens, Crystal Bridges is expected to be among the world's finest museums devoted to American art. Alice Walton has spearheaded the museum efforts.

Although John Walton, Sam and Helen Walton's second son, died in a 2005 plane crash, he, like his siblings, was deeply involved in the family's philanthropic efforts. He gave millions of dollars for private-school scholarships and to promote charter schools, and his widow, Christy, continues the family's charitable efforts.

3. Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation/ Winthrop Rockefeller Trust/Winrock International Institute/ Winthrop Paul Rockefeller/Lisenne Rockefeller
As has the Walton family, the Rockefeller family has made an indelible mark on Arkansas through the gifts of individual members and the work of various family-founded nonprofits.

Winthrop Rockefeller, Arkansas governor from 1967-71, was born into a storied family of immense wealth. He and his second wife, Jeannette, were instrumental in providing seed money for what would become the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock and helped raise more money for the center. They contributed at least $2 million during Rockefeller's lifetime, and more came from the family's charitable trust.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, created out of the estate of the former governor, awards grants to promote education, economic development, and economic, racial and social justice. The foundation, founded in 1974, is the fifth-largest nonprofit in Arkansas and has awarded more than $130 million during its existence, according to its current chief, Sherece Y. West.

In September 2007, the foundation donated more than $12 million to the Arkansas Cancer Research Institute to help create a new leukemia/lymphoma program. The center has been renamed the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, in honor of the late Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, son of Winthrop and former Arkansas lieutenant governor. Win or Win Paul, as he was known, also devoted his time and money to many causes, perhaps chief among them the Boy Scouts of America.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Trust is the seventh-largest nonprofit in Arkansas with assets of $143 million as of June 30, 2007. The trust makes awards for various charitable purposes with a focus on Arkansas and education.

Winrock International is the product of the merger of three nonprofits, one of which was an animal agriculture research effort created by Gov. Rockefeller. Winrock International, headquartered in Little Rock, works around the world and in the United States on economic development and environmental protection.

Lisenne Rockefeller, the widow of Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, is a force in philanthropy primarily through her work as a member of the board of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.



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