- The foundations for Kroger and Walmart announced Monday funding recipients for initiatives to create more equitable and inclusive communities.
- Walmart and the Walmart Foundation said they are giving $14.3 million to 16 groups, including $5 million for the American Heart Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, which works to reduce health disparities, and $2.75 million total to eight organizations supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Meanwhile, the Kroger Foundation selected four organizations to collectively receive $3 million.
- Announced on the first day of Black History Month, the grants tie back to ongoing initiatives to support racial equity, the retailers said, and come at a time when the retail and grocery industries are looking to ramp up diversity efforts.
These latest grants are part of the major retailers' ongoing efforts to bolster diversity at the community level and within their companies.
The $14.3 million funding from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation is the first distribution of grants that will total $100 million over five years. Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon first announced the $100 million effort in June following the police killing of George Floyd, stressing that the company wants to address systematic racism.
Walmart and its foundation are distributing the funds through a newly created racial equity center that supports philanthropic efforts in four systems: financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice. “The goal of the center is to help advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system,” McMillon said in June.
In September, the retailer shared its mid-year report on culture, diversity and inclusion, which included more data than previous reports and marked the company's move to providing the report twice a year instead of annually.
In addition to the American Heart Association and groups encouraging inoculations against COVID-19, Walmart's first round of the grants will also support:
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation: $2 million from Walmart
- Echoing Green: $1.5 million from the Walmart Foundation
- Association of Black Foundation Executives: $1 million from the Walmart Foundation
- Student Freedom Initiative: $1 million from the Walmart Foundation
- Harlem Children’s Zone: $500,000 from Walmart
- PolicyLink: $500,000 from Walmart
- Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center): $100,000 from the Walmart Foundation
The Kroger Foundation chose the recipients for its Racial Equity Fund grants after soliciting applications, according to the press release. A panel made up of Kroger associates and leaders, external partners and local community foundations selected the four organizations from a pool of 14.
Two organizations received $1 million. Everytable, a Los Angeles-based meal subscription company focused on healthy food, will use its grant to “expand an innovative public-private funding structure to spur an increase in business ownership for Black entrepreneurs, and people of color (POC) broadly, with the goal of opening 40 POC-owned franchises over the next two years,” according to the announcement. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents the Black college community, plans to use its funding to address food insecurity and food waste primarily in low-income and underserved Black communities.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has offices in 36 cities along with a rural program, will use its $500,000 grant to start a partnership to further its strategy to combat “racial health, wealth, and opportunity gaps,” while D.C.-based Black Girl Ventures, which works to boost entrepreneurship among Black and Brown women, will use its $500,000 grant to create two fellowship cohorts.
Kroger’s announcement linked the grants to the grocer’s 10-part plan to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion in its stores, corporate offices and beyond. The plan, which Kroger unveiled in October, includes taking steps like tripling its sourcing from diverse suppliers, partnering with historically Black colleges and universities for recruitment and providing unconscious bias training to senior leadership.
Following widespread unrest and calls for social justice, retailers, including Costco, Target and Giant Food, are ramping up their diversity efforts and work to support underrepresented communities. Natural Grocers recently renewed its financial backing for Jack and Jill of America, Inc.’s fund, which gives scholarship endowments to students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities.