Walmart Foundation Awards UAMS Northwest Regional Campus $125,000 for Marshallese Diabetes Program

By Ben Boulden

Since 2015, the Walmart Foundation has awarded UAMS $319,000 for the Marshallese Diabetes Program and the North Street Clinic, most recently awarding the program $125,000 in December 2016.

Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for UAMS’ Northwest Regional Campus and co-director of the Center for Pacific Islander Health, welcomed members of the Marshallese community, UAMS faculty and staff, and representatives from both Walmart and the Walmart Foundation as they gathered for a reception inside the North Street Clinic at UAMS.

“UAMS is grateful for the continued support from the Walmart Foundation, allowing us to build upon our work serving the local Marshallese community,” McElfish said.  “Through our community based approach, northwest Arkansas Marshallese have asked for a culturally specific diabetes prevention program, the Walmart Foundation is helping UAMS meet that need.”

“The mission of the Walmart Foundation is to help those in northwest Arkansas lead healthier lives,” said Erin Hogue, senior program manager with the foundation. “Our partnership with UAMS does just that.”

The North Street Clinic provides much needed medical care to the Marshallese community, while also playing a vital educational role, said Tom Schulz, M.D., interim associate dean for the College of Medicine and co-director of the North Street Clinic along with Jonell Hudson, Pharm. D..

“The North Street Clinic offers invaluable interprofessional educational experiences for UAMS students — providing patient care side by side with students from other programs,” said Schulz. “Walmart’s commitment to a growing home region and a changing local population has helped not just the Marshallese get much needed diabetes care but also ensured a well-rounded group of health care professionals will graduate in northwest Arkansas.”

In January 2015, Walmart Foundation, through its Northwest Arkansas Giving Program, provided a $194,000 grant to the UAMS North Street Clinic, which opened in November 2014 specifically to offer diabetes testing and treatment for Marshallese patients. A portion of the grant enabled UAMS to hire a registered nurse case manager for the clinic to better coordinate care for patients. The clinic is staffed by UAMS Northwest Regional Campus faculty and student volunteers. Nearly1,000 patients have been served since the clinic opened.

Furthering its commitment to the region, Walmart Foundation awarded UAMS a $125,000 grant in December 2016, again in support of the Marshallese Diabetes Program. These funds will be directed to a Marshallese-specific Diabetes Prevention Program, a culturally adapted program designed to reduce the incidences of type 2 diabetes by teaching overweight and obese pre-diabetic participants how to make modest lifestyle changes.

Northwest Arkansas is home to the largest Marshallese population in the continental United States — a population that experiences a significant and disproportionate percentage of type 2 diabetes. The diabetes rate among the Marshallese is one of the highest of any population group in the world, affecting as many of 50 percent of those living in northwest Arkansas.

UAMS began its focused outreach effort in 2013 with the goal of addressing health disparities in the region, including high incidences of chronic disease in underserved populations. That effort gained momentum in 2014 when UAMS Northwest Regional Campus was awarded a $2.1 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study ways for teaching diabetes self-management skills in coordination with care provided through the North Street Clinic.

Since 2014, more than $10 million has been awarded to the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus to further focus on health disparities in both the Marshallese and Hispanic communities of Benton and Washington counties.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts that draw on the strengths of Walmart in the arenas of sustainability, economic opportunity, and community. As part of Walmart’s commitment to creating a more sustainable food system worldwide, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States. They recently exceeded a $2 billion goal to fight hunger, one year ahead of schedule, and have donated more than 1.5 billion pounds of food to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit