Spark Communities Program

The State Giving Program is now the Spark Communities Program. The Spark Communities Program will provide multi-year grants starting at $500,000 to 501(c)(3) organizations in select communities across the United States. Requests for applications are by invitation only.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation use philanthropic dollars to complement and extend the impact of Walmart’s social and environmental initiatives. Through both in-kind and cash gifts, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation give over $1 billion annually to projects that create opportunity, enhance sustainability and strengthen community.

At Walmart we believe that we can be the strongest when we lean in to our unique strengths as a retailer. That means activating millions of our associates through volunteerism or using our business know-how to lead on social and environmental issues that affect the people in the communities we source from and serve.

We also believe that working with others helps us to reshape systems to create shared value between our business, foundation, local nonprofit organizations, community leaders and citizens. This collaboration helps us to build local relationships in an effort to positively impact long term systems change in the economic opportunity, sustainability and community development space.

Why the State Giving Program is changing
While the State Giving Program (SGP) served lots of organizations and communities it had many areas many flaws. SGP

  1. was not designed to prioritize outcomes or achieve focused objectives due to short-term investments and the inability of program officers to be deeply involved in shaping investments and partnering with grantees
  2. didn’t provide a strong, positive experience for applicants or grantees
  3. was a cumbersome process that was difficult to manage and had low acceptance rates which resulted in a poor experience for applicants.

What is changing
The State Giving Program is now the Spark Communities Program. The Spark Communities Program will provide multi-year grants starting at $500,000 to 501(c)(3) organizations in select communities across the United States. Requests for applications are by invitation only.

The program is designed to provide the opportunity to work deeply in chosen communities over a three-year timeframe, encouraging joint planning and goal setting. Additionally, the program will significantly decrease the number of organizations requesting, but not receiving funding. Last, but not least, this program will allow for solutions created through collaboration with local leaders, nonprofits and citizens that are locally relevant and highly impactful for their communities.

How it works
The new program will test different approaches based on local community needs in an effort to work more closely with local organizations to create systems change in highly responsive and locally relevant ways. The Spark Communities Program will:

  1. Work with local leaders, nonprofits and citizens to form an advisory committee and choose a topic to address (e.g. hunger, veterans, community development, etc.)
  2. Find a local nonprofit partner to help:
    1. Gather feedback from community leaders and citizens,
    2. Form an advisory committee to help inform the work,
    3. Create the strategy for addressing the topic,
    4. Re-grant funds and
    5. Implement the strategy
  3. Meet with the advisory committee throughout the duration of the grant (up to three years) to help guide the work and report on the progress made.

We are proud of the relationships we have with the nonprofits that we have funded in the past and will fund in the future. We believe that these changes will allow us to fund programs that are highly relevant in local communities, and that deliver local systems change over time.
Frequently Asked Questions

How many communities will the program work in?

The program is expected to operate in 5 -7 communities at the outset with additional cities added in future years.

Why is the application by invitation only?

Since the location and topics are varied we want to make sure those organizations that submit applications have a high chance of receiving consideration for funding. In order to make this happen we will invite organizations that serve the chosen community and that have expertise in the chosen topical area.

Should I mail additional materials to increase the chance of my organization being invited to apply?

No. A Walmart Giving representative will contact your organization if information is needed.

Where can I find additional information about the communities and organizations that are funded through the new program?

Information on funded organizations and their topical areas can be found by visiting the Spark Communities Grant Recipient link.

I received a grant last year, where can I submit a final report?

Please visit the CyberGrants portal to submit your organization’s final report.

What about organizations who relied on the State Giving program for key initiatives?

Through State Giving, Walmart Foundation invested in a lot of strong, local nonprofits. We are working hard to provide healthy transitions for these organizations. The Walmart Foundation is evaluating bridge grants for organizations who have been funded at least two out of the last three years AND who have demonstrated that State Giving funding was a significant part of their program or organizational budget. . The organizations that meet these criteria have been contacted. The Walmart Foundation is working with them to submit an application for bridge grant funding.

Where else can I get funding?

For most nonprofit organizations the best fit will be store or club grants or through grants from our Volunteerism Always Pays program. However, we encourage you to visit giving.walmart.com to get more information on giving by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation and to find out which programs might be a good fit for your organization’s funding needs.

Are Walmart and the Walmart Foundation moving away from local funding?

No. The Spark Communities Program is designed to impact local communities in the United States and complements giving programs operated by Walmart such as Community Giving and Volunteerism Always Pays. Both Walmart and the Walmart Foundation continue to evaluate giving programs to achieve a balanced global giving portfolio that is designed to achieve the greatest impact.

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@KJPalm Hi Kristi, please contact your store manager for available options. Thank you.

@Nate_P_Hickman Hi Nate, please contact your store manager for available options. Thank you.

@anniebmorrison Hi Ann, please reach out to your store management team.

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