NWA Pride Parade / File photo
A new fund established by the Walton Family Foundation has been created to support LGBTQ work in Arkansas.
The new $1 million fund, which includes donations from the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Olivia and Tom Walton, will support organizations working to improve the quality of life for LGBTQ Arkansans, according to a press release from the Walton foundation.
“There are many organizations eager to stand up for a more inclusive, accepting environment for all who live in and visit our state,” said Adrienne Collins from Central Arkansas Pride. “We are committed to showing up every day to ensure Arkansas’ LGBTQ community has the support needed to thrive.”
Funds will be awarded to organizations that offer legal, health, education and advocacy services, along with other high-demand needs, officials said. The Arkansas Community Foundation will oversee the fund, with support from a grand selection committee that will include leadership and representation from the LGBTQ community.
“This fund will allow LGBTQ-serving nonprofits in our state to expand their impact on communities and help Arkansans pull together to build a more welcoming and supportive environment for us all,” said Heather Larkin, president of Arkansas Community Foundation.
Grants of at least $25,000 will be given to Arkansas-based organizations that serve the LGBTQ community. National entities with a local presence, established in-state partnerships or strong community relationships may also qualify for the funds.
“Organizations from across our state are leading the efforts needed to build a sense of community,” Alice Walton said. “Let’s support this important work that ensures everyone in Arkansas can live their lives with equity and dignity.”
The award comes at a time when the state has been criticized for a string of anti-trans laws were passed by the Arkansas legislature earlier this year. Tom Walton also denounced the anti-trans legislation in a statement released earlier this spring.
“Our state is in a moment of reflection where each of us must send a message of acceptance to the LGBTQ community that says – ‘you belong here,’” Olivia and Tom Walton said in Thursday’s press release. “It is also a time for action by recognizing LGBTQ Arkansans face growing challenges that need community-driven solutions.”
In addition to the establishing gift made by the foundation, the program will also seek additional funds to expand support.
Those interested in contributing or learning more about the program can visit arcf.org.