Walton Family Foundation

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The Walton Family Foundation was established as the culmination of the philanthropic interests of the family of Sam M. and Helen R. Walton, owners of Wal-Mart. According to its website, the Foundation's three focus areas are: K-12 education reform, freshwater and marine conservation, and quality of life initiatives in the Arkansas region.[1] Much of the focus of the foundation is on the privatization of the U.S. public school system.

Small Contributions from Walton Family

The WFF's assets are less than 1.5% of the Walton's net worth.[2]

A 2014 report found that the Walton family gives surprisingly little to the Walton Family Foundation[3] . Key findings included: *Rob Walton, chairman of Walmart’s board of directors, has not made a single contribution to the Foundation.

  • Alice Walton, has not given a single dollar to the Foundation.
  • Jim Walton made one personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation, more than 15 years ago.
  • The total contributions of Rob, Jim, Alice, and Christy Walton, and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation amount to $58.49 million, equivalent to:
    • 0.04% of their net worth;
    • Less than one week’s worth of the Walmart dividends they will receive this year.
    • Less than the estimated value of Rob Walton’s collection of vintage sports cars.


According to its 2012 IRS Form 990 filing, the Walton Family Foundation had $581.4 million in revenue, $441.2 million in expenses, and year end assets with a fair market value of $1.999 billion.[4]

Notable 2012 Grants[5]

Ties to Conservative Advocacy Organizations

In 2006, the New York Times reported that the Walton Family Foundation had given over $2.5 million to "prominent conservative research groups" over six years.[6] These groups, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Manhattan Institute then defended the company in the press and in congressional testimony.

School Privatization Efforts

Report on WFF's Influence on School Privatization Movement (2015)

In 2015, In the Public Interest and the American Federation of Teachers released a report, "Brought to You by Walmart? How the Walton Family Foundation's Ideological Pursuit is Damaging Charter Schooling," which according to its own description "explores the radical agenda of the Walton family and the foundation it controls, and how that agenda has taken the U.S. charter school movement away from education quality in favor of a strategy focused only on growth."

Support for Washington, DC Charter Schools

According to an April 2014 New York Times article, the Walton Family Foundation has invested $80 million in education initiatives in Washington, DC, despite not opening a store there until 2013.[7] This includes $1.2 million since 2002 to the four DC Prep charter schools in the city, money to the local charter school board, vouchers for private schools, and support to an advocacy group for charter schools. The Foundation also hired Lori Drummer Armistead as an education program officer, who is the former director of public affairs and the director of the education task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council.[8]

Funding Milwaukee Charter Schools

On January 8, 2013, the Walton Family Foundation announced it had provided $1.4 million to four new charter schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In its press release, the Foundation stated it has spent $6.2 million toward launching 36 new charter schools in Milwaukee since 2001. The Walton Family Foundation is the largest private investor in new charter schools across the country.[9]

Recipients included North Point Lighthouse Charter School (4200 W. Douglas Ave.), Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (1028 and 920 S. 9th St.), Carmen High School of Science and Technology's new north side campus (5496 N. 72nd St.), and Rocketship Milwaukee, opening its first charter school at 2933 W. Cleveland Ave. in the fall of 2013.

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, the Walton Family Foundation has donated over $84.3 million to charter schools and organizations that support them, such as Green Dot Schools, ICEF schools, and the Los Angeles Parent Union. They have also contributed $1 million to candidates or political action committees which support school privatization efforts.[10]

Support for the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Walton Family Foundation was a "Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000.[11]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Board of Directors


  1. Walton Family Foundation, "About," organization website, accessed May 6, 2014.
  2. Walmart 1 Percent "The Phony Philanthropy of the Walmart Heirs: How the Richest Family in America Uses Their Private Foundation to Mislead the Public and Increase Their Wealth" June 2014
  3. Walmart 1 Percent "The Phony Philanthropy of the Walmart Heirs: How the Richest Family in America Uses Their Private Foundation to Mislead the Public and Increase Their Wealth" June 2014
  4. GuideStar, "IRS Form 990," organization website, accessed May 6, 2014.
  5. GuideStar, "IRS Form 990," organization website, accessed May 6, 2014.
  6. Michael Barbaro and Stephanie Strom, "Wal-Mart Finds an Ally in Conservatives," New York Times, September 8, 2006.
  7. Motoko Rich, "A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools," New York Times, April 25, 2014.
  8. Walton Family Foundation, "Education Reform Staff," organization website, accessed May 6, 2014.
  9. Erin Richards, "Walton Foundation gives millions to new Milwaukee charter schools" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 8, 2013
  10. Peter Dreier, "Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School 'Reform' In LA?," Huffington Post, February 28, 2013.
  11. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]