No. 11: The Walton Family Foundation

Sam Walton vowed to shake up “time-honoured assumptions”


The world’s largest retailer is Walmart, and the Walton family has a 51 per cent stake in the company. No wonder that the Waltons are the richest family in America.

The Walton Family Foundation was set up by Walmart’s founders, Sam and Helen Walton in 1988, when they pledged to shake up the charity sector. “We are going to approach philanthropy with the same lack of reverence we gave to the traditional methods of the retail business when we started out there,” said Sam Walton at the time. He vowed to shake up “time-honoured assumptions” about “how you can motivate ordinary people to do extraordinary things”.

Main areas of funding are school education, freshwater and marine conservation and improving the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas, the founders’ home region.

In November, the Walton Family Foundation announced an investment over £33m in Teach for America, the 25 year old project, supporting teacher recruitment efforts and the training and professional development of some 4,000 teachers.