The John M. Belk Endowment was founded in 1995, although its purpose has grown and evolved over the years. Initially its function was to fund a scholarship program at Davidson College, John’s beloved alma mater. His vision for the scholarship was to bring the most talented students to this highly acclaimed educational institution, regardless of their individual means, and subsequently improve the state’s credentials and workforce. John inherently believed that a quality education and leadership training are key prerequisites to leading a productive and fulfilling life in this complex and ever-changing world. Today the John Montgomery Belk Scholarship program provides one of the nation’s most prestigious and generous undergraduate scholarship opportunities, and the Endowment’s Board continues to work with Davidson to ensure its ongoing success.
John had even greater plans for the Endowment, as evidenced in his estate. He left instructions that the Endowment should focus on educational needs, as determined by its Board. He was deliberate in his decision to ensure flexibility so that these funds could be allocated to any educational purpose at any given time—thus allowing the Endowment to grow and change with the world around us. In 2012, the Endowment’s Board of Directors, led by his daughter MC Belk Pilon, further refined the organization’s mission to focus solely on postsecondary education in North Carolina. Today, the Endowment’s goal is to create pathways for underrepresented students to achieve credentials and degrees that are in alignment with the current needs of employers, resulting in stronger communities throughout the state and additional job opportunities for all people.
In 2013, Kristy Teskey was hired as the Endowment’s first Executive Director. With her experience in education and workforce development, she and the Board have lead the organization to partner with results-oriented post-secondary institutions and programs in North Carolina to continue John’s legacy and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality.