by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) – On Wednesday, the Walton Family Foundation announced that it had made $159 million worth of investments in education reform and school improvement in 2011.
The Foundation said it focused on 16 lower-income communities that didn't already have school choice programs in place. Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado, the top three recipient communities, each received more than $7 million from the Foundation. A press release stated that the Foundation's goal "is to raise student achievement and close the persistent performance and attainment gap between low-income children and their affluent peers."
The Foundation announced strategic investment in three key initiatives: Shaping public policy, Creating quality schools and Improving existing schools. Among the largest grants awarded were to The Charter School Growth Fund, Teach for America, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Kipp Foundation and GreatSchools.
Sam and Helen Walton, who founded the Arkansas retail chain Wal-Mart, started the Walton Family Foundation.