Northwest Arkansas, like most of America, is changing.  Driven by economic growth and a low cost of living, our region attracts a diverse group of newcomers.  Some from the Marshall Islands, some from Mexico, and others from around the United States.  They come to work hard and make a better life for themselves.  However, their can-do attitude sometimes needs a little help to overcome the cultural and language barriers that can isolate us.

At Tyson Foods, we are committed to helping our Team Members discover their potential by supporting programs that create a culture where inclusion is expected, and diversity is leveraged. We strive every day to create an atmosphere where all people feel valued and empowered and have access to the same opportunities.

Today, we announced our partnership with EngageNWA, an organization which aims to build a strong community of global talent in Northwest Arkansas and maintain the region’s status as one of the nation’s best places to live.

EngageNWA has announced a four-year plan that outlines initiatives to make Northwest Arkansas an inclusive and welcoming environment and ensure that residents from diverse populations have access to the resources they need.

The plan addresses regional challenges including the need to attract, grow and retain workers, a shortage of diverse representation in the region’s leadership, a gap in newcomers’ understanding of local systems and how to access services, and the need for improved cross-cultural communication and cultural awareness.

This partnership reinforces the shared values of our community to which we are so proud to belong. We’re taking the next step toward reaching our goal of recruiting, retaining and engaging the most diverse and skilled group of team members possible.

A Tyson Foods Community Cornerstone Grant will aid the implementation of five key components of the EngageNWA plan:

•    The City of Springdale was awarded $96,400 to (1) convene underrepresented residents for a community forum to solicit input about the city’s future, (2) implement a civic academy to teach residents about accessing and engaging with city services and leadership opportunities, (3) hire an individual to manage the city’s Welcoming Communities efforts, and (4) create videos and documents in English, Spanish and Marshallese about how to access services and stay safe.

•    EngageNWA was awarded $63,681 to manage the grant and to (1) develop a program that identifies, trains and help connect qualified individuals to leadership roles; (2) create a unified voice for regional inclusion efforts through a communications campaign; (3) convene community cohesion forums to bring together a diverse group of Northwest Arkansas residents; and (4) coordinate diversity and inclusion training for different sectors. 

•    CanopyNWA was awarded $37,979 to provide a community orientation workshop series for newcomers about how to navigate key community systems and to pair new arrivals with established community members through a mentor program to help them connect to the community and reach their objectives.

•    Welcoming America was awarded $40,000 to work with the cities of Fayetteville and Springdale to meet the indicators of at least two areas of the Welcoming Standard.

•    Teen Action and Support Center was awarded $24,406 to increase access to services for Spanish and Marshallese speakers by providing culturally sensitive translators for services and by translating key service materials.

The goal is to foster positive interactions that create a shared understanding between Tyson Team Members and long-time community residents and enable people to overcome inequality and disadvantage resulting from circumstances beyond their control.  

We are all stronger as a collective community when we ensure the needs of all members are being met and each member feels equally represented and valued. We are all striving to reach the top of the pyramid—the goal of unlocking our highest potential. I believe that when we help others understand what they are truly capable of and provide the necessary tools to help them advance, we too get a little closer to the top.

Published August 1, 2018.

Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at

Garrett Dolan is Tyson Foods’ Senior Manager for Community Investments. He joined the Tyson Foods team in February 2017 after 25 years of experience working on social responsibility and sustainability initiatives.  His passion is grantmaking and building winning partnerships with between the company and community organizations.

Before joining Tyson Foods, Garrett worked for Shell Oil and oversaw several efforts related to social impact assessments, stakeholder engagement, and grantmaking.  He earned his Doctorate in Social Science From Syracuse University where he studied ways to build market systems to buy and sell recyclables.  Garrett has published and presented in over two dozen venues.

Outside of work, Garrett loves spending time with his family and watching movies.