Our Founder

Building Community. Shaping The Next Generation.

A native of Charlotte, N.C., John Belk’s life was a culmination of improving and advancing education and the city as a whole. In all of his roles – retail giant, mayor, community builder and philanthropist – John always looked for opportunities to help others. And he believed that finding ways to provide a solid education was one of the best ways to do that.

John Montgomery Belk

“The more you do for mankind, the better you’ll like life. Whether it’s a company or a city or state, you’ve got to leave it better for the next generation.”
—John M. Belk

Mr. Belk considered himself blessed in many ways, and he wholeheartedly believed in paying it forward. In the early 1990s, Mr. Belk founded a scholarship program at his alma mater of Davidson College – now one of the nation’s most prestigious and generous undergraduate scholarships. One of his favorite activities was to meet and mingle with the students, whose sharp potential energized him with hope for the future. The tremendous success of this program inspired him to increase funding to the John M. Belk Endowment.

True to his visionary nature, however, Mr. Belk created the Endowment to have a great deal of flexibility so that it could evolve over time and stay relevant. As a man who always embraced change, he was purposeful in his plans to ensure this endowment would be poised to do the same. Therefore, he designated the funds for education, but empowered the future leadership to address the most pressing educational issues of any point in time, and to go a step further, aligning the qualifications of the workforce with the current needs of employers.

Mr. Belk lives on through his Endowment, which champions so many of the causes to which he dedicated his life: building community, advocating education, and preparing the next generation of young people so that they might lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Read more about Mr. Belk’s lifetime of accomplishment and service here.

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