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January 22, 2013

After Newtown, Some Schools Question Taking Wal-Mart Money

In the aftermath of last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some private schools are questioning whether it is appropriate to accept grants from the Walton family, whose Wal-Mart chain is the country's biggest gun seller, Bloomberg writes.

The Walton Family Foundation is biggest private donor to charter schools, with $312.9-million in support since 1997. Wal-Mart, of which the Waltons own 48 percent, has come under pressure to restrict firearms sales since the December 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn.

"It's a moral issue," said Andrew Sweigard, principal at the Academy of New Media Middle School, in Columbus, Ohio, which has relied on a $250,000 Walton foundation gift to stay open. "Can we take funding from a company that is linked to a potential disaster in our school? Do we want to associate ourselves with guns?"

A Wal-Mart spokesman declined to comment specifically on schools' concerns. Richard Moreno of the Charter School Services Corporation, an umbrella group that received more than $1.6 million from the Waltons in 2011, drew a line between the foundation's philanthropy and the firm's gun policies, which he said is "a decision for the shareowners."