Walton Foundation Gives $4.3M to Schools in Arkansas, Mississippi

The Walton Family Foundation announced Tuesday that it was awarding a $4.3 million grant to Teach for America's Mississippi Delta region, which serves school districts in Arkansas and Mississippi.

The money will be used to increase the number of teachers, or Teach for America "corps members," in the region during the next two years. A previous foundation grant funded more than 550 teachers in 125 schools during the 2012-13 school year, the nonprofit, based in Bentonville, said in a news release. Those teachers reached more than 45,000 students, the foundation said. The new, $4.3 million grant will bring the number of teachers to 582 in the 2013-14 school year and 610 in 2014-15.

"Each year we have to turn away qualified, dynamic applicants due to the lack of funding," said Ron Nurnberg, executive director of TFA-Delta. "With this grant we will be able to deepen our relationship with Delta schools by placing hardworking, transformative leaders in many more local classrooms. This is a significant win for local children."

The Walton Family Foundation said it had provided nearly $15 million in funding to TFA-Delta since 1993.

Among the Arkansas schools helped by Teach for America-Delta is the KIPP Delta Public Charter School in Helena. Scott Shirey, the school's executive director and a former TFA corps member, said almost 70 percent of the school's teachers are either TFA corps members or alumni. Seven of nine school administrators are TFA alumni, Shirey said.

Teach for America works with communities to help educate children in poverty. The Walton Family Foundation focuses on K-12 education reform, marine and freshwater conservation and quality of life issues in Arkansas.