Walton Family Foundation Gives $1.9M Grant for Public School Leadership Program

The University of Arkansas Foundation and the College of Education and Health Professions are the recipients of a $1.9 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

The grant, announced Monday, will fund the Principal Fellows program and place skilled administrators in some of the poorer public schools in Arkansas. The objective is to provide enhanced student outcomes and lead to stronger communities and economic growth in the state. 

In the next four years, 60 administrators will attend one-year, high-impact leadership training through the Principal Fellows program., which focuses on math and literacy proficiencies in students. The fellows will take part in an internship with master principals and trained mentors to provide them with real-life understanding of the challenges faced by administrators, teachers, students and parents.

"The new Principal Fellows program will recruit and train some of Arkansas' best administrators, giving them tools they need to be successful in some of the more challenging areas of the state," John Pijanowski, professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Health Professions, said in a news release.

Kathy Smith, senior program officer at the Walton Family Foundation, called the program unique and "designed to do something new while leveraging existing organizations and focusing on building strong schools."

"Combining resources and sharing information is a great way to build dynamic programs that effect the most change," she said in a news release. "We believe this model has great promise for Arkansas' most at-risk school districts."