Press Release

Parks and Green Space Competition Announced as Focus of 2017 Design Excellence Program

BENTONVILLE, Ark., March 21, 2017 – The Walton Family Foundation’s Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program is continuing to champion high-quality design at all levels with a focus on public spaces in 2017. 

Media Contact

Luis Gonzalez
Walton Family Foundation

“As Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, finding balance between the built and natural environments will improve livability in the area,” said Home Region Program Director Karen Minkel. “This program will allow communities to preserve green spaces in accessible urban settings.” 

According to the foundation’s Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey, 83 percent of people reported using parks in the last year, making them one of the most used amenities in the region. However, nearly half of residents reported having to drive to a local park or green space. To increase access and use, the foundation is inviting local governments and nonprofits to submit grant applications for parks, green spaces and plazas now through June 30. This effort aligns with the foundation’s Home Region 2020 Strategic Plan to support initiatives that enhance quality of life. 

To be selected for funding, qualifying entities must present innovative ideas for public spaces that will increase public access and strengthen surrounding neighborhoods. Applicants must also demonstrate how they will leverage the region’s highly popular trail network, which 69 percent of Northwest Arkansas residents reported using at least once within the past 12 months. In addition, projects must show a commitment to sustainability and creativity by encouraging residents and visitors to engage with the public spaces in new ways. All applications must be submitted by June 30 at waltonfamilyfoundation.org/design. The list of selected projects will be announced on November 15.

The Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program provides financial support to entities such as school districts; county, state or local municipalities; and nonprofit organizations that intend to develop spaces for public purposes. Funds are earmarked for all phases of design work. It is inspired by a similar enterprise in Columbus, Indiana by the Cummins Foundation. 

Since 2015, local, national and international architecture and landscape designers have been invited to submit their work for consideration for future projects. The group of designers now includes more than 50 firms representing 15 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Denmark. To date, the program has supported six projects including a new performance arts space for TheatreSquared; an adaptive reuse facility for the Rogers Historical Museum; a new facility and playground for the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center; a municipal campus in downtown Springdale; a five-acre park in downtown Siloam Springs; and a new campus and landscape design for Thaden School in Bentonville.

About the Home Region Program and the Walton Family Foundation
The Home Region Program invests in projects that measurably improve the quality of life by creating cultural, educational and economic opportunities throughout Northwest Arkansas and in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region. In 2015, the Walton Family Foundation contributed more than $35 million to its home region. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org, and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.