Wal-Mart Announces $400K Contribution to Michigan's "Great Start" Program

March 16, 2004
The Read, Educate, and Develop Youth - or R.E.A.D.Y. - Kits contain important learning, health and safety information for children from birth.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Fogleman
(479) 277-2927

BENTONVILLE, Ark., March 16, 2004 - Children who develop good learning habits in the early years of life typically enhance their ability to learn for the rest of their lives. In keeping with core principles of helping children, improving literacy and bettering communities, Wal-Mart today announced a $400,000 contribution for the State of Michigan’s "Great Start" program. The funds, provided by the Wal-Mart/SAM’S CLUB Foundation, will purchase 40,000 R.E.A.D.Y. Kits for parents of infants in at-risk families.

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm joined Claire Watts, executive vice-president for Wal-Mart Stores Division, David Norman, regional vice-president for Wal-Mart Stores, store manager Adam Vandiver and a host of other dignitaries today to celebrate the foundation’s commitment to early childhood learning at Wal-Mart 2869, 409 N. Marketplace Blvd., in Lansing.

The Read, Educate, and Develop Youth - or R.E.A.D.Y. - Kits contain important learning, health and safety information for children from birth. It is national award-winning program that has been used by many other states as a model. "This information will help parents make the right choices for their children about such things as nutrition and education. It also encourages parents to read, stimulate and nurture their kids," said Watts. "Wal-Mart and its associates are committed to improving literacy in Michigan and all across the U.S. We are proud to partner with Governor Granholm and her efforts to give children a ’great start’ on the learning process."

"Education does not start on Monday morning when the eight o’clock bell rings, and it does not end when our children get on the bus at three and that is why we must create an atmosphere that breeds success in school, out of school, and in the critical years before a child ever enters a classroom," Granholm said. "Thanks to the Wal-Mart/SAM’S CLUB Foundation and all of our partners, parents will have the information they need to be their child’s first teacher, which is the most critical job any of us will ever have.

"Wal-Mart, SAM’S CLUB and its more than 25,000 associates in the state of Michigan value the communities we serve," said Betsy Reithemeyer, vice-president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart and director of the Wal-Mart/SAM’S CLUB Foundation. "The Michigan Great Start program compliments so well our charitable giving focus of education, children and communities. It is truly an exciting and unique opportunity to broaden the impact we can have with our efforts and have a positive influence on the lives of young people in the state."

Wal-Mart has 48 general merchandise stores in the state as well as 20 supercenters, 23 SAM’S CLUB locations and two distribution centers. As of March 1, 2004, there were 25, 741 Michigan associates working for the company. Last year, Wal-Mart, SAM’S CLUB and its associates returned more than $4.3 million in charitable contributions to communities in the state. Wal-Mart was recently recognized by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as the nation’s largest corporate giver of cash, benefiting some 80,000 organizations each year. Earlier this month, Fortune magazine named Wal-Mart the "Most Admired Company in America" for the second consecutive year.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUBS in all fifty states. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. Last year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., contributed more than $140 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. Customers and associates raised an additional $70 million at stores and clubs.

R.E.A.D.Y. Kits are currently available to at-risk families through Intermediate School Districts and County Health Departments.