SPRINGDALE, Ark. – EngageNWA, which operates as part of the Northwest Arkansas Council, received grants totaling over $700,000 from Tyson Foods and the Walmart Foundation to reach its latest strategic plan of ensuring an inclusive, welcoming environment to an increasingly diverse population.

The Walmart Foundation’s $450,000 grant to the council is earmarked to develop the region’s diversity and inclusion programs. A Tyson Foods Community Cornerstone Grant of $262,466 will help five recipients carry out the EngageNWA plan.

The five key areas the plan focuses on are economic development, government, civic engagement, safe and connected communities and education.

“The work by EngageNWA is a critical component of our overall economic development plan for the region,” said Nelson Peacock, the Council’s president and CEO. “For Northwest Arkansas to continue ranking among the nation’s best places to live and work, we need everyone to feel a strong connection to our community.”

EngageNWA published a report earlier in 2018 that said the demographics of Northwest Arkansas have changed dramatically over three decades. The study found that 31 percent of residents will be nonwhite by 2022 compared to 4 percent in 1990. The group also said that Hispanic/Latino, Asian, African-American and Pacific Islander populations are expected to increase in the near future.

“It’s clear from the close to 200 stakeholders who participated in the plan’s development this past year that many members of our community, particularly those from diverse populations, want a stronger connection to the broader Northwest Arkansas community and have access to the resources they need,” said Margot Lemaster, EngageNWA’s executive director. 

 “Today’s announcement reinforces the shared values of our community that we’re so proud to be a part of,” said Hector Gonzalez, vice president of human resources for Tyson Foods. “By investing in a range of community partners, we’re taking the next step toward reaching our goal of recruiting, retaining and engaging the most diverse and skilled group of team members possible.”

The Walmart Foundation provided a $450,000 grant to the Northwest Arkansas Council to support the Council’s efforts to accelerate regional diversity and inclusion programs through the work of EngageNWA, specifically the strategic planning process.