Funder Spotlight: John M. Belk Endowment

Funder Spotlight: John M. Belk Endowment

October 13, 2022

North Carolina is home to a number of funding institutions supporting strategies necessary for economic growth. As a result of Golden LEAF’s strategic plan, one of the five strategic priorities is to have, and be recognized for, excellence in organizational collaboration, innovation, and impact. To help address this goal, a spotlight on North Carolina funders will be included in the Golden LEAF Newsletter at the beginning of each month as a resource for our readers.

The mission of the John M. Belk Endowment (JMBE) is to transform postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. The vision of the John M. Belk Endowment is a stronger North Carolina where all residents have access to and complete postsecondary educational pathways that help them realize their career goals aligned with the state’s workforce needs.

The John M. Belk Endowment serves all 100 of North Carolina’s counties.

The John M. Belk Endowment grant process is by invitation only.

Program: Access

JMBE is committed to improving access to postsecondary education by supporting organizations that remove barriers and provide opportunities for all students. Examples of this work include support for partner organizations such as Year Up and the College Advising Corps.

Contact Michelle Sorrells, Impact Officer, at [email protected] or visit this site for more information.

Program: Completion

JMBE is committed to increasing the number of underrepresented students who complete postsecondary education with credentials relevant to market demands. Examples of this work include support for service providers such as Single Stop and Finish First as well as actionable research from colleagues at UNC-Charlotte, and the Education Futures Initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Contact Dwight Miller, Impact Officer, at [email protected] or visit this site for more information.

Program: Workforce Relevance

JMBE is committed to building collaboration between all stakeholders to open pathways that align with workforce needs and lead students to living-wage employment. Examples of this work include support for partnerships with organizations such as Novant Healthcare, Road 2 Hire and a network of local educational attainment collaboratives, including the Land of Sky P-20 Council. 

Contact Mark Reed, Managing Director, at [email protected] or visit this site for more information.

Program: Adult Learners

JMBE is committed to an initiative known as NC Reconnect, a strategic set of supports for community colleges engaging with adult learners to return to higher education to gain new skills, advance in the workplace, and fulfill their goals of completing a degree or credential. A cohort based group of 10-15 community colleges are engaged in this work across the 2022-2023 school year.

Contact Mike Krause, Senior Advisor, at [email protected] or visit this site for more information.

Program: Strategic Opportunities and Enabling Conditions

JMBE is committed to supporting the necessary enabling conditions and strategic opportunities needed to transform postsecondary education in North Carolina. Examples of this work  include supports for the state’s 2030 postsecondary attainment goal and the My Future NC organization, capacity building efforts at the NC Community College System, the University of North Carolina and strategic engagement and research efforts at the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. 

Contact John D. Denning, Senior Advisor, at [email protected] or visit this site for more information.

Scholarship Programs

Davidson College invites high schools and community-based organizations (both domestic and international) to nominate outstanding students with extraordinary potential to compete for the John M. Belk Scholarship. Information on the John M. Belk Scholarship can be found here.

The John M. Belk Impact Fellowship is a 10-month (August-May), paid program that provides hands-on experience for students currently enrolled in community college, undergraduate, or graduate programs in North Carolina. Building on the success of the John M. Belk Scholarship program, and the belief that talent is universal but opportunity is not, the Fellowship serves as a training ground for future generations of social impact leaders. To gain exposure to the inner workings of organizations playing a variety of critical roles across North Carolina’s education landscape, Fellows could be placed at organizations such as nonprofits, education systems and institutions, and philanthropy. Information on the JMB Impact Fellows can be found here

To learn more about John M. Belk Endowment and its programs, visit

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