The generosity of Arkansans is another reason it is such a wonderful if small state. People from all walks of life willingly share their time, talent and money to help others.
The philanthropy of the most fortunate in our state is both remarkable, and in some ways unprecedented.
Winthrop Rockefeller may have set the tone with his generous donations in his adopted state. The same could be said about Donald W. Reynolds and his Reynolds Foundation. But many other wealthy families have been incredibly generous, too. The Murphy family in El Dorado and their $50 million El Dorado Promise comes immediately to mind. The Stephens family and their donations of tens of millions of dollars has made Little Rock a far greater city. The Walton family in Northwest Arkansas, probably America's wealthiest family, has showered tremendous generosity on their native state. Sam Walton's brother, Bud, gave tens of millions of dollars to establish the Bud Walton basketball arena. Later the family gave $300 million to establish an honors college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, at the time the largest single donation to a public university in America's history. Then later they gave some $1.3 billion of funding for the Crystal Bridges Museum, one of America's finest museums of American art. Today the Walton family foundation has close to $5 billion, with much of that income going to schools in Arkansas, often to those helping lower income, minority students.
Sam Walton not only made his family wealthy, but lots of other Arkansans, too, who work for or invested in Walmart. Just one example is the Wingate Foundation and their incredible generosity in supporting the arts in our state, including a recently announced donation of $35 million to the Arkansas Arts Center.
Many of the largest donations come from foundations and corporations. But a recent donation from Jim Walton of Bentonville, one of Sam Walton's sons, probably set an all-time record with an individual, personal donation of $1.2 billion. It's hard to imagine that size donation, and also hard to imagine all the benefits people of Arkansas will realize from it. It certainly reflects his commitment to his native state, Arkansas, and the causes he cares about the most, including education and its necessary reforms.
The wealthy come in for an unfair dose of bashing, especially during political seasons. But Arkansas is certainly a far better state for their generosity and philanthropy.
Editorial on 07/14/2019
Print Headline: The giving mood