Northwest Area Foundation Leader Speaks in Rapid City

Aug 27, 2015

The president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation says the demographic changes underway in this country make him optimistic about the future.   

But Kevin Walker says more needs to be done to create opportunities for poor and marginalized people in this economy if the United States is going to compete globally.

The Northwest Area Foundation is a $400-million dollar philanthropic organization that was started about 80 years ago.  It invests in projects across eight northwestern states and 75 indigenous nations.

Kevin Walker (right) President and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation with host Matt Ehlman (left) at the Morning Fill Up meeting at the Garage in Rapid City.
Credit Charles Michael Ray

Kevin Walker, the President of the Northwest Area Foundation spoke at the monthly Morning Fill Up  meeting at the Garage co-working space in Rapid City.    Walker expressed concern over income inequality in America and the challenges it poses.

“It’s like a barbelling of our society.  A concentration of wealth on one end and poverty on the other and a thinning out in the middle that is really un-American,” says Walker.  “That’s not the great country that we’re all so proud of. And we need to find a way back to a vibrant middle.”

Walker says because of the demographic changes underway in America inequality must be addressed or the rising majority is going to be dispossessed as they come into adulthood.

“We need to solve this question of where does opportunity lie and how do we make opportunity truly available to everybody,” says Walker.   “Including those who are living in low income, people of color, marginalized communities in today’s reality,” he adds.   “We’re not, in terms of population, India or China, by which I mean we can’t afford as a nation to just sort of cream and invest in the best, invest in the most able and figure that’s going to allow us to compete internationally in the 21st century, it won’t.”    

Walker says he remains optimistic, but says the challenges ahead are daunting.

You can hear a longer format interview with Kevin Walker on Dakota Midday Below: