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WRF Trustees approve $5.6 million in grantmaking for Equity in Arkansas in 2021

Foundation News

2021 Investments in a More Equitable Arkansas



In 2021, we did not waver in our relentless pursuit of educational, economic, and social, ethnic, and racial equity for all Arkansans. We are proud to have supported our partners who fought to advance justice and equity for ALICE households, the nearly half of our state’s population who have a difficult time making ends meet, while responding to their own organizational challenges.

This year we launched the Micah Fellows, co-founded the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative, and supported the creation of the LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund at the Arkansas Community Foundation.

We continued our long-term support of Excel by 8 and ForwARd Arkansas, two bold equity initiatives that are leading the way to transform our state's educational systems. We co-organized Grow AR Own, which is a group of community, banking, and business leaders examining the economic impact of inequity and committed to advancing bold ideas to close the access to capital gap.

Through our general operating grants, we helped expand the capacity of advocacy groups across the state. Immigrants, youth, ALICE families, and many others used their voices this year to disrupt systems, direct public and private investments, and reshape programs to ensure all Arkansas families are healthy, financially stable and well positioned to thrive. We are inspired by these friends and partners and remain committed to supporting their hard-fought progress.

As we share our 2021 investments, we look forward to funding even more positive change in 2022. We will continue to be bold, take risks, build trust, be accountable to our grantees, and relentlessly pursue equity in Arkansas.

2021 Grants

Advancing Black Entrepreneurship, Inc. — $100,000

To provide general operating support to Arkansas organizations that are critical to the equity infrastructure in Arkansas.



Advocates For Community And Rural Education — $200,000

To increase the Rural Community Alliance's capacity to carry out its mission in pursuit of equity in Arkansas.



Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families — $10,000

To support advocacy and outreach that advances the priorities of the Arkansas state team of the Alliance for Early Success.



Arkansas Black Mayors Association — $30,000

To support the Arkansas Black Mayors Association in the development of a strategic plan, identification of operational goals, and fundraising in support of their mission.



Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, Inc — $15,000

To support a year-long campaign to develop, test, and share tactics and strategies rooted in the voices and lived experiences of Arkansas' Marshallese residents, in partnership with Reimagine Arkansas.



Arkansas Community Foundation — $150,000

To provide matching funds to the Arkansas Delivering on the Dream (AR-DOTD) Fund at ARCF, that supports direct services, advocacy, and organizing so that immigrants and refugees can fully participate in a thriving and prosperous state.



Arkansas Community Foundation — $100,000

To provide immediate, flexible resources to Arkansas’ nonprofits to support ongoing needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.



Arkansas Community Foundation — $200,000

To leverage $1 million in funding to promote equity, advance economic and gender justice, and improve well-being for the LGTBQIA+ community in Arkansas.



Arkansas Impact Philanthropy — $100,000

To support high impact collaboration and joint funding among Arkansas’ philanthropic organizations.



Arkansas Judicial Council, Inc. — $20,000

To support organized convenings for state judges to engage impacted community members and explore the nature and elements of systemic bias present within the justice system.



Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Inc. — $150,000

To organize leaders and residents across the state, and build collective power that advances policy change towards a more equitable Arkansas.



Arkansas Rural Health Partnership — $10,000

To support the ARHP to engage every rural hospital in South Arkansas to create a shared vision for equity and strategies to better meet the needs of rural Arkansans.



Asset Funders Network — $90,000

To support the development of state level opportunities for low and middle income individuals and families to build economic well-being in Arkansas.



Auburn Theological Seminary — $50,000

To build a new infrastructure of faith leaders who are prepared to engage in advocacy and moral leadership that advance the narrative of economic equity in Arkansas.



Brandon House Cultural & Performing Arts Center — $30,000

To support the growth and development of creative entrepreneurship in Central Arkansas through a collaborative Creative Economy Business Academy and Business Therapy model.



Central Arkansas Harm Reduction Project — $15,000

To support movement building and advocacy for LGBTQ+ equity in Arkansas.



Communities Unlimited, Inc. — $90,000

To provide critical capital to small businesses in the Arkansas Delta and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.



Conexión de Negocios Latinos — $30,000

To build the internal capacity of CNL to support and grow LatinX run businesses in Arkansas.



Delta Circles, Inc. — $35,000

To support the coordination of Delta Owned, and provide critical capital to small businesses in the Arkansas Delta and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.



Delta Circles, Inc. — $150,000

To provide general operating support to Arkansas organizations that are critical to the equity infrastructure in Arkansas.



Delta Community Development and Law Center, Inc. — $30,000

To provide critical capital to small businesses in the Arkansas Delta and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.



Derek Lewis Foundation — $150,000

To mobilize a broad coalition of leaders, funders, and institutions on a common mission and vision for Black communities in Arkansas.



Early Childhood Education Coalition — $200,000

To build the power and voice of early childhood educators, parents, and others in Arkansas’ early childhood education system to advance transformative, systemic change.



East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Inc. — $35,000

To provide critical capital to small businesses in the Arkansas Delta and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.



East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Inc. — $50,000

To conduct research on how COVID relief funds in Arkansas were distributed to businesses and nonprofit organizations in response to the pandemic.



Excel by Eight — $1,000,000

To support E8’s operations and implementation of its 2022-23 work plan and strategies.



Financing Ozarks Rural Growth and Economy — $210,000

To provide additional entrepreneurial support and crowdfunded capital to small and micro businesses in Central Arkansas, specifically for businesses started and run by Latinx entrepreneurs.



Financing Ozarks Rural Growth and Economy — $300,000

To provide general operating support to expand FORGE's capacity to provide business capital to rural entrepreneurs and other underserved business owners in Arkansas.



ForwARd Arkansas — $250,000

To support an assessment of the current challenges in Arkansas’ P-12 education system and articulate opportunities for post-pandemic changes for more equitable academic outcomes.



ForwARd Arkansas — $1,200,000

To provide general operating support to ForwARd to carry out its mission to accelerate the innovative and equitable transformation of Arkansas' Pre-K to 12 education system.



Fractured Atlas — $75,000

To support the Faith Matters Network (FMN) to facilitate a statewide cohort/peer learning journey of Arkansas faith leaders committed to economic equity.



Locus Impact Investing — $70,000

To participate in a $42 million pooled commitment of financial guarantees that will back investments in affordable housing, small business, and climate change-related projects.



Locus Impact Investing — $1,000,000

To provide $1 million of a $42-million pooled commitment of financial guarantees that will back investments in affordable housing, small business, and climate change-related projects.



The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas — $50,000

To establish a grant program to incentivize local churches and ministries to engage in advocacy and projects to promote economic equity.



Our House, Inc. — $80,000

To support the engagement of homeless or near homeless ALICE families in policy conversations on equitable access to affordable housing for all Arkansans.



Phoenix Youth and Family Services, Inc. — $30,000

To provide critical capital to small businesses in the Arkansas Delta and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.



Southern Bancorp Capital Partners — $150,000

To provide flexible resources to fill technical assistance and capital access gaps for businesses owned by women, people of color, and/or those who live in rural areas in Arkansas.



Southern Bancorp Capital Partners — $25,000

To provide administrative support to process grant payments as part of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) CARES Act grant program for nonprofit organizations providing COVID relief services in low wealth communities.



University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service — $120,000

To provide general operating support to Arkansas organizations that are critical to the equity infrastructure in Arkansas.



University Of Central Arkansas Foundation, Inc. — $25,000

To support the implementation of the LatinX Entrepreneurs And Families (LEAF) Initiative in collaboration with The Conductor.



The Village Place — $30,000

To support a youth-led narrative change and movement building strategy in Central Arkansas.