Message from the Chair
Dear Friend of The Belk Foundation,
A $40,000 grant will expand the successful WINGS for Kids program from Charleston to Atlanta.
The Belk Foundation’s fiscal year came to a close May 31. It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone. While we have learned a lot, the sands are constantly shifting in the public education reform movement. We are increasingly aware of how the environment - from school boards to public budgets to political campaigns - affects the progress that our grantee partners are trying to achieve with students. Considering risks, and trying our best to foresee and plan for them, will have an increased presence in our discussions as we consider investments.
In our FY12, the Foundation invested over $2.4 million in our communities. We are proud of the work that our ongoing grantee partners continue to do and are inspired by some new relationships that we formed this past year. One such relationship is with WINGS for Kids
, a successful after school program founded in Charleston, SC that is expanding to Fulton County, GA this coming fall in part due to a seed grant from the Foundation. WINGS is not an average after school program - its curriculum focused on developing social and emotional intelligence and strong results-orientation caught the eye of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, which awarded WINGS with a $2.8 million study aimed at scientifically measuring the program’s impact and effectiveness. We’re excited about the involvement WINGS will have in the lives of Fulton children and what we’ll learn through their research.
This past year marked a first for the Belk Foundation. Seeing an opportunity to focus on out of school time in Birmingham, AL, we worked with the National Summer Learning Association
to convene a community-wide effort around summer learning. This year-long initiative brought together over two dozen community and education leaders to discuss both the opportunities and barriers to increasing quality summer learning for Birmingham children, resulting in a community action plan
. The NSLA also conducted a resource scan
of current providers and how well they are meeting quality standards and accessing available resources such as the Federal Summer Food Service. On April 26, over 70 community leaders met to learn the findings and hear from other
TBF Board Member Frank Matthews shakes the hand of a SpeakFirst student during the Foundation's visit to Birmingham.
cities, including Baltimore, MD, Providence, RI, and Indianapolis, IN, about how they have tackled summer learning loss and its effect on the achievement gap. We are so thankful to the NSLA, and especially to the Birmingham community members, for their dedication to this effort and their continued work to put this community plan into action.
Another first for the Belk Foundation was to travel outside of Charlotte for our spring Board meeting. Recognizing the importance of “place” in the impact we try to make with our investments, the Foundation Board decided to travel to Birmingham in May for our spring meeting. Never wanting an opportunity to go to waste, we packed the agenda with meetings with grantees such as Impact Alabama’s Speak First
, the YWCA
, Better Basics
and UAB’s Children’s Creative Learning Center
. We also hosted a breakfast panel discussion with Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Superintendent of Birmingham City Public Schools, J.W. Carpenter, Executive Director of Teach For America Alabama
, Caroline Novak, Executive Director of A+ Education Partnership
, and Dr. Michael Froning, Executive Director of the Birmingham Education Foundation
. The Board enjoyed meeting so many of our partners in Birmingham who have welcomed our involvement and been such an incredible resource for us.
One truism that has held steady throughout has been that people matter: those who work with our children, lead the school district, and serve on the school boards can make or break the progress of education. This lesson has taught us to be increasingly mindful of our own board service to the Foundation. We are pleased that Peter Gorman, former Superintendent of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and current Senior Vice President of News Corps’ Education Division, joined our Board June 1.
TBF Board Chair Katie Morris reads to Freedom School Partners students at Montclaire Elementary School.
Pete brings with him an enormous amount of experience and national connections in education. We know we will benefit from his service.
When the Foundation committed to the new focus on education in 2010, we decided to evaluate our progress at the three-year mark. This year, we are taking a deep dive into lessons learned from our grants the past couple years and evaluating these strategies against research in the field. Next spring, our Board will “look back” in order to “look forward”. While we do not know yet how this evaluation will impact our strategy, we are committed to asking the hard questions and being as objective as possible. We feel a great responsibility to our communities to invest our dollars wisely and are looking forward to what this process has in store.
As always, we want our Foundation to have an open door. If you have any thoughts to share with us, we hope you will do so. Please go to our contact page to see how to get in touch with a member of our staff.
Katie B. Morris
Board Chair, The Belk Foundation