The Walton Family Foundation is the primary charitable outlet of the Walton family, the heirs to Sam Walton’s Walmart fortune. With a combined net worth of $196 billion as of March 2020, the Waltons are the wealthiest family in the world.  Unlike the Walmart Foundation, which is controlled by Walmart Inc., the Walton Family Foundation is controlled directly by the Walton family, with all six board seats being held by Waltons. 
The Foundation was founded in 1987 and initially focused on charter schools, a particular interest of Sam Walton and his sons. Over time, the Foundation evolved to focus on three areas: K-12 education, river and ocean protection, and economic development in Arkansas and Mississippi. However, charter schools remain one of the Foundation’s top priorities, and since 1997, the Foundation has given $407 million to charter schools. 
The Foundation is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas and has offices in Washington, D.C.; Jersey City; and Denver.
On July 1, 2019, eldest heir Jim Walton announced that he was donating $1.2 billion worth of his Walmart stock to charity. Though Walton did not say what organization was receiving the funds, Bloomberg News speculated that it likely went to the Walton Family Foundation, the recipient of most of his past donations. 
In 1962, Sam Walton opened Walmart Discount City in Rogers, Arkansas. In 1969, after launching dozens of branches, Walton incorporated the store as Wal-Mart Inc. The following year, the company reformed as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and went public. Throughout the 1970s-90s, Wal-Mart expanded into a regional and then national retail powerhouse with a business model of aggressively cutting prices through bulk orders from suppliers. 
Though altruistically minded, Walton resisted directing Walmart toward philanthropic activity. In his 1993 posthumously published autobiography, Walton explicitly stated, “we feel very strongly that Wal-Mart really is not, and should not be, in the charity business.” Walton expressed the belief that Walmart’s positive contribution to society was based on raising living standards for Americans (especially with lower incomes) by running an efficient company which provided essential products at low prices. He also declared concern about draining value from shareholders and customers through charitable giving. 
Despite his expressed reservations, in 1982 Sam Walton founded the Wal-Mart Foundation as the charitable arm of Walmart. Its expenditure was low compared to comparable corporate foundations until the late 1990s, after Walton’s death. 
In 1987, Walton launched the Walton Family Foundation as a charitable institution directly under the control of Walton and his children. At launch, the Foundation disbursed about $1 million, with expenditures steadily rising over the following decade. In 2000, grants reached $50 million, and would double to $100 million by 2004. 
From the founding of the Walton Family Foundation up until the mid-1990s, the Foundation was primarily focused on charter schools, which were a “passion project” of Sam Walton and his sons. It was not until the late 1990s that the Foundation added focuses on environmentalism and regional development. 
Charter schools remained one of the Foundation’s top priorities. Between 2003 and 2015, the Foundation gave $116 million to charter schools to help purchase and build facilities. In 2016, the Foundation announced that it would spend $1 billion on charter schools over the following five years. Later in the year, the Foundation announced a separate $250 million grant in the form of low-interest loans to aid in building and expanding charter schools in 17 cities. 
Since 1989, the Walton Family Foundation has given almost 22,000 grants to a wide array of nonprofits focused on education, environmentalism, and economic development. In 2018, the Foundation disbursed over $600 million in grants. While most recipients over the last few years have been politically neutral, a minority have ranged from left-of-center to right-of-center. 
In 2018, the Foundation gave $100,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a right-of-center think tank based in Washington DC. The Institute has received funding from the Foundation almost every year since 2011; it received its first Walton Foundation grant in 2003. Also in 2018, the Foundation gave 147 grants ranging from $500 to $4.3 million The Nature Conservancy, a conservationist group. 
The Foundation has also given grants to numerous left-of-center environmentalist groups. In 2018, it gave 11 grants worth about $10 million to the Environmental Defense Fund and eight grants worth almost $2 million to the Meridian Institute. Also in 2018, the Foundation also gave about $4 million to the New Venture Fund, a fiscal sponsorship nonprofit which incubates left-of-center advocacy groups.