On the first day of Black History Month, Walmart announced it is awarding $14.3 million in grants to 16 not-for-profit organizations working to advance racial-equity initiatives across the country. The grants are being awarded as part of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer's pledge, made last June, to award $100 million in racial-equity grants over the next five years.
Recipients include the American Heart Association's Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, eponymously named for the late Kaiser Permanente CEO and AHA board member who died in 2019. The Walmart Foundation's $5 million grant to the fund will support distribution of loans and grants to initiatives working to improve access to healthy and affordable food in communities of color in Atlanta and Chicago, according to a Walmart news release. A $1 million grant to the Student Freedom Initiative will support that organization's work to reduce student loans and/or debt for students studying STEM fields at historically Black colleges and universities.
Additional first-round grants from the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity will support organizations working on COVID-19 outreach and education, including UnidosUS, the Association of Asian-Pacific Community Health Organizations and the Conference of National Black Churches. The full list of grant recipients can be found on Walmart's corporate website.
The mission of the newly launched Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity is to "complement and extend the societal impact of Walmart business initiatives to advance racial equity in the nation’s financial, health, criminal justice and education systems," Walmart stated in its news release about the initial round of grants.
"Walmart has made a commitment to advancing racial equity, finding areas where we, as a company, can best contribute our resources and expertise to change society’s systems that perpetuate racism and discrimination," Kirstie Sims, senior director of the center, said in Walmart's news release.
Walmart is not alone at the start of this month in announcing recipients of grants to support racial equity. The Kroger Co. Foundation on Feb. 1 also announced it is awarding $3 million to four organizations selected through the company's Racial Equity Fund "Build It Together" challenge. Kroger associates and leaders as well as external partners helped select the four recipients, according to Kroger. Awardees are Washington, D.C.-based Black Girl Ventures and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Los Angeles-based Everytable, and New York-based Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which is also one of Walmart's grant recipients.