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Fayetteville Gets $1M Library Donation from Willard & Pat Walker Foundation

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The Fayetteville Public Library Foundation has received a $1 million gift from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation as it launches the final phase of a fundraising campaign.

The library’s kitchen, which is part of a 100,000-SF expansion that opened last year, will be renamed the Walker Family Teaching Kitchen to recognize the family’s donation. It’s the second space at the library to be named in honor of the Walkers, following the Willard and Pat Walker Community Room.

Willard Walker was an executive at Walmart when it went public, making a fortune as one of the company’s first shareholders. Over the years, he and his wife Pat gave millions to Arkansas organizations with charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational goals. They started their nonprofit foundation in 1986.

The Walker Family Teaching Kitchen provides public programming and workforce development opportunities, the library said in a news release. Fayetteville Public Schools and Brightwater, a culinary school in Bentonville, have partnered with the library for a program that allows high school students to graduate with an associate’s degree in culinary arts.

“We hope that our gift and the Walker Family Teaching Kitchen allow even more of our community members to access the library’s resources,” Mandy Macke, the foundation’s executive director, said in the release.

The library is seeking $9 million in public donations over the next three years to help pay for the $50 million expansion. A millage passed by Fayetteville voters in 2016 provided $27 million for the project, while another $14 million has come from private donors. 

Christina Karnatz, the library’s director of development and marketing and communications, said the funds will be used to further expand programming and complete additional projects. 

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