Look at any small town in America where Walmart has a super-presence, and you will see the surrounding strip malls with pawn shops, bail bondsmen, pay-day lenders, fat food shops, and broken down movie houses with an endless stream of mindless fare for children, all in 3-D.
The Walton clan has money to burn, and to prove it, last year they gave $159,000,000 in tax-sheltered dollars to the enemies of public education. Please note that in the category where philanthropy could do the most good, in research and evaluation, the Waltons gave the least. Why?
Research does not lend itself to the right wing ideological agenda of the Armani Arkansans.
The pro-charter Walton Foundation handed out more than $159 million in 2011 in 16 metropolitan areas around the country to promote school choice. It also committed to giving $49.5 million to Teach for America over five years to double its teaching corps and $25.5 million over the same period to the KIPP charter school network to double the number of students it educates.
The foundation is one of the three big family education philanthropies — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation are the other two — and the one that gives the most money to initiatives involving the school choice movement, such as vouchers and charter schools.
The overall sum for 2011 was a few million more than the foundation handed out in 2010. The largest single grant given last year was $22.9 million to the Charter School Growth Fund, a non-profit venture capital fund that invests in charters. The second single largest award went to Teach for America — $12.6 million in its first installment of the multiyear grant, and the next largest was $11 million to The Children’s Scholarship Fund, a school voucher organization.
The foundation’s strategy is clear from the grants: It is funding organizations that it thinks can help scale charter schools quickly and rapidly increase the pool of voucher students.
It concentrated on 16 regions of the country in 2011, nine more than in 2010. Los Angeles topped the list, winning $9,643,100; the next largest amount — $8,370,944 — went to Washington D.C.
The third multi-year initiative announced in 2011 was $15 million to the California Charter Schools Association, with the goal of getting 100,000 more children into charter schools over three years. Its 2011 grant was for $3.2 million; KIPP’s was $6.4 million.
Here is a breakdown on how the foundation spent money on education-related initiatives in 2011, and, after that, a list of all 2011 grantees. The breadth of grantees shows the foundation’s reach and impact.
Shaping Public Policy — $58,122,888
Creating Quality Schools — $73,450,647
Improving Existing Schools — $26,050,991
Research and Evaluation Grants — $1,425,339
Charter School Growth Fund — $22,900,000
Teach For America (National) — $12,572,500
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) — $6,783,114
KIPP Foundation —$6,404,020
GreatSchools Inc — $4,775,000
Total Number of 2011 Grantees — 216
Grant Totals by Investment Site Alphabetically
Albany — $3,012,425
Atlanta — $2,520,000
Boston — $2,999,415
Chicago — $3,023,393
Denver — $7,961,899
Detroit — $2,494,002
Harlem (NY) — $2,470,000
Indianapolis — $2,565,000
Los Angeles — $9,643,100
Memphis — $1,447,838
Milwaukee — $5,232,000
Minneapolis — $970,961
New Orleans — $5,274,487
Newark (NJ) — $1,697,649
Phoenix — $1,926,010
Washington, DC — $8,370,944
Here’s a full list of the grantees: