Walton Family Foundation Gives 2 Education Groups $1.3M

The Walton Family Foundation said Tuesday that it had given a total of $1.3 million to two organizations working to improve Arkansas' K-12 schools.

The foundation, led by members of the Walton family that founded Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, gave $875,000 to the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science and $450,000 to the Arkansas Tech University Center for Executive Leadership.

The foundation said the grants are part of its strategy "to increase academic performance of the state’s students."

"The economic well-being of our state depends upon the ability to create an environment where every child in Arkansas has access to a high-quality, publicly funded education," Kathy Smith, senior program officer for the foundation’s Arkansas Education Reform initiative, said in a news release. "We believe in preparing students for success with a quality education. When you do, academic expectations grow, graduation rates rise and the standard of living improves.

"Arkansas has made significant gains in education and we will continue to invest in programs that help raise the academic bar."

The Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, or AAIMS), will use its two-year grant toward growing the number of Advanced Placement classes available to low income and minority students. 

The Leader-to-Leader program of Arkansas Tech University Center for Executive Leadership, or ACEL, will use its money toward developing "strong district and school leaders for Arkansas public schools." The foundation said the program "promotes creative thinking and problem solving by Arkansas' school administrators."