Meet the Funders is back and has its largest panel to date, with representatives from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Art Feeds, United Way, Arkansas Community Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Bentonville Soup, Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Humanities Council. The panelists will answer questions submitted ahead of time by all program registrants. Registration begins May 1 and is required to receive a link to view the panel discussion.

Meet the Funders 2020 Panelist Bios

Meg Bourne | Founder + CEO | Art Feeds

Meg Bourne is the founder of Art Feeds, which she started at the age of 19 in 2009. She spent her adult life investing in the value of children through her work as CEO. Art Feeds believes all children are curious, imaginative, creative, innovative and our greatest resource. To fuel these valuable skills, Art Feeds creates spaces in schools and children's organizations where students feel free and safe to express themselves. This is done by providing training, curriculum, supplies and ongoing support for over 7,000 children annually in these spaces in Arkansas and around the world. You can learn more at and follow @artfeeds on Instagram. 


Jess Anthony | Grant Programs Manager | Arkansas Arts Council

Jess Anthony has worked as the Grant Programs Manager for the Arkansas Arts Council staff since 1995. As a coordinator within the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, he runs the Arts Council’s General Operating Support and Collaborative Project Support grant programs, creates the agency’s online grant guidelines each year and helps plan the biannual state arts conference. Furthermore, Jess oversees the state’s touring roster program for performers and visual artists, helping to select new members for the roster and maintain the online roster itself. His work with Arkansas presenters and Arts on Tour artists extends regionally as state representative for performance issues with the regional arts funding organization the Mid-America Arts Alliance. In the past, Jess has served as an out-of-state review panelist for the Nebraska Arts Council, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Mid-America Arts Alliance. On a national level, he has co-chaired sessions for the Presenting and Touring peer group at two National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) conferences. The Arkansas Arts Council advances the arts in Arkansas each year by providing over $1.6 million in grants-in-aid to Arkansas arts organizations and other providers of cultural and educational programs. The agency also provides technical and financial assistance to support and encourage arts endeavors assisting literary, performing and visual artists in achieving standards of professional excellence.


Megan Earnhart | Grants Manager | Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Megan Earnhart spent two and a half years in AEDC’s Marketing and Communications division before coming to the Division of Rural Services in 2018. Megan brings with her a diverse background, having worked for both state and municipal governments. Her experience includes administration, journalism, marketing and graphic design. In 2009, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Design degree from Henderson State University. That same year, she worked for the city of Caddo Valley where her roles included Office Manager, Water Clerk and Deputy Court Clerk. She later began her career in graphic design for local Arkansas advertising agencies. While working for the White Hall Journal, she earned seven Arkansas Press Association awards. Megan was born and raised in Langley, AR. She currently lives in Sheridan, AR, with her husband, John. 

About the Division of Rural Services:
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Division of Rural Services (DRS) (formerly Office of the Arkansas Department of Rural Services) and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission (ARDC) were created by the Arkansas General Assembly through Act 302 of 1991, the "Arkansas Rural Development Program Act" and began operations in 1992. DRS merged with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission under Act 8 of the 2015 First Extraordinary Session. DRS is charged with assisting rural communities with a population of 20,000 and under. The director and staff serve as a single point of contact for any person or group interested in issues affecting rural Arkansas. The mission of DRS and ARDC is to enhance rural quality of life for rural Arkansans without sacrificing individual freedoms or responsibilities.


Jama Best | Executive Director | Arkansas Humanities Council

Jama Best is executive director of the Arkansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities whose mission is to promote the understanding and use of the humanities in Arkansas. Her decades of experience in non-profit leadership and museum management include leading popular and successful grant initiatives for the Council, including the REACH (Raising Education Achievement and Competence in the Humanities) Grant, the Helen T. Leigh Museum Field Trip Grant, Arkansas State Park Field Trip Grant and the Operating Grant for Small Museums. She spearheaded bringing engaging museum exhibitions to the state through the Smithsonian Institution Museums on Main Street Voices & Votes: Democracy in America (2020) and Hometown Teams:  How Sports Shape America (2018) exhibitions. A recognized expert on grant writing, Jama has been invited to speak on this and other subjects to students and professionals around the state. She has served regionally as president of the Arkansas Museums Association and nationally as a member of the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the NEH Data and Evaluation Committee (Previously, the Data Task Force). Prior to joining the Council, Jama held roles as an education specialist with the Old State House Museum and as a park interpreter, superintendent, and planner with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With experience in education, interpretation, historic preservation and conservation, community development, grant making and programming, Jama is a passionate promoter of the humanities in Arkansas and is committed to expanding opportunities for you in the state to explore the humanities.

The initial approach for funding inquiries is a letter, phone call or email.


Jodi Dilday | Development Director | Arkansas Community Foundation

As Development Director working in the Community Foundation’s Northwest Arkansas satellite office, Jody Dilday provides donor services to existing fund holders, works to establish new partnerships and supports our community-based affiliates in Fayetteville, Carroll County and Western Arkansas. 

Arkansas Community Foundation is a statewide organization serving all 75 counties in Arkansas. We help Arkansans across the state give to the causes they care about, and we make grants to make life better for people in all four corners of the state. 


Jessie Wagner | Business Development Manager | Flintco

Jessie Wagner moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2012 after obtaining her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Management degrees at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Jessie has a passion for discovery which has led to her spending a summer on a Byzantine archaeological excavation in Sicily and two years working for the National Park Service in the remote New Mexican high desert. Jessie was drawn into non-profit & economic development after discovering a knack for writing grants and a deep fascination with creating and sustaining community partnerships. Jessie has worked for Crystal Bridges, NWA Children’s Shelter and Brightwater/NWA Community College. She is proud to be a founding member of Bentonville SOUP. Jessie also teaches yoga and spends the vast majority of her free time attempting to maintain her urban farm in downtown Bentonville.

Bentonville SOUP is a micro-granting dinner series celebrating and supporting creative projects in and around Bentonville. SOUP is an open-source project that started in Detroit, and adapted for Bentonville, AR, to help spark positive change in our community and empower citizens to pursue their own creative initiatives. At each dinner, attendees receive a plate of food, a drink and a vote. Food is supplied by area businesses and attendees alike in a collaborative, potluck style. Four presenters share their project ideas on topics ranging from art and education to social justice and tactical urbanism. The evening culminates with attendees voting on their project-of-choice and the winner of the vote is granted all of the money raised by participants that evening. Winners return to future SOUP dinners to report on their project’s progress.


Ana Phakhin | Sr. Community Impact Director | United Way of Northwest Arkansas

Ana Phakhin is the Senior Community Impact Director at United Way of Northwest Arkansas. She manages the community investments focused on building prosperity for children and families and supports initiatives that strengthen nonprofit capacity to build thriving communities. Thanks to the generosity of community partners, United Way is proud to invest $2 million in Northwest Arkansas for the 2019-21 grant cycle. As a mobilizer of community resources, United Way collaborates with partners throughout the region to raise funds to support programs that lift up children and families to achieve their fullest human potential.


Erin Turner Hogue | Director, Strategic Initiatives | Walmart Corporate Giving & Global Responsibility

Erin Hogue leads strategic initiatives at Walmart. As part of this work, Erin works to align and leverage corporate and philanthropic efforts supporting the needs of the community through strategic planning and responsible grant making across all sectors. In addition, Erin provides strategic leadership and management capacity to foundation-wide structures and processes, including causing marketing campaigns for Walmart, overseeing the Associates in Critical Need Trust (ACNT) and managing customer service functions of the foundation such as annual planning, grants management and operations and external relations. Erin joined the Walmart in June 2016 and brings 14 years of grant making, fundraising and strategic planning experience to the position. Prior to joining Walmart, Erin served as the Vice President of Development at Walton Arts Center where she was responsible for managing and advancing a comprehensive development strategy to support all the center’s facilities and programs. She has a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, a masters degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Arkansas.

Funding guidelines are as follows:

Northwest Arkansas Giving

Arkansas has been home to Walmart since 1962, when Sam Walton opened his first store in the town of Rogers. continues to invest in the region that has supported Walmart becoming the global company it is today. Our regional giving strategy works to enhance the quality of life through the following initiatives:

  • Supporting Economic Opportunity: We support regional coordination and planning through targeted investments to strengthen the long-term capacity and capability to address gaps and barriers in the region. Applications in this focus area are by invitation only.
  • Improving Community Access and Availability to Healthier Food: We support programs that work to systematically improve access to healthier food, teach healthier eating skills and collaborate among local nonprofits to meet the area’s long-term needs. Deadline to apply is June 1, 2020.
  • Strengthening Community Cohesion: To build a culture of inclusion in the region, we support programs that provide access to arts and recreation programs. While there is some support for subsidized admission or programming, support that prioritizes collaboration across organizations’ innovation is prioritized. Deadline to apply is June 1, 2020.

For the Northwest Arkansas Giving Program, eligible nonprofit organizations must operate within Northwest Arkansas or be affiliates/chapters of larger organizations that operate within the region and whose work directly relates to the above focus areas. To learn more, check out our Northwest Arkansas Giving Guidelines.