The Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville, Arkansas, has announced that during 2011 it awarded grants totaling more than $71.4 million to environmental organizations in the U.S. and around the world working to protect natural resources and strengthen local economies that depend on them.
The majority of the grants were awarded through the foundation’s core environmental initiatives, Marine Conservation ($30.5 million) and Freshwater Conservation ($26.8 million). Among other things, the foundation supported efforts to bring conservation, business, and community interests together to find long-term solutions to big environmental problems. For example, the foundation helped facilitate the formation of a coalition of environmental advocates, small business owners, and local governments which is working to ensure that fines paid as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be directed to restoration projects along the Gulf Coast.
Foundation grant recipients in 2011 included Conservation International, which was awarded nearly $5 million to implement a three-year program designed to empower local communities to manage and conserve fishing resources on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast; the Marine Stewardship Council, which received $3.1 million to work with seafood buyers and retailers to create a market for sustainably caught seafood; the National Audubon Society, which was awarded $2.7 million to develop nature-based tourism opportunities in the Mississippi River Basin; and the Nature Conservancy, which received almost $1.9 million to develop innovative methods to protect and restore the Colorado River that benefit both people and nature.
“The foundation and our grantees embrace ‘conservationomics’ — the idea that conservation efforts can and should bring economic prosperity to local communities,” said Scott Burns, director of the Walton Family Foundation’s environment focus area. “Our commitment to conservationomics means that we support restoration projects that create jobs and boost local economies. We are proud that our grantees are working to ensure that our rivers flow as strongly as the electricity they generate for nearby towns and that fishermen’s families and fishing communities are thriving alongside recovering fish populations.”
For a complete list of the foundation’s 2011 environmental grantees, visit the Walton Family Foundation Web site.