Our Approach


As a foundation dedicated to quality education for all students, The Belk Foundation is committed to ensuring our learning and actions uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion. Please read more about our process to reflect, learn, and improve here.

Our Board of Directors adopted Beliefs to Actions for two reasons: To establish best practices, and to hold ourselves accountable. It’s important to us that we “walk the walk,” interacting with our community responsibly and consistently in everything we do. We feel deeply accountable to our grantee partners, and it’s our intention to make sure we never take for granted the philanthropic legacy of our founders.


ALL CHILDREN DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACHIEVE - We believe that all children can achieve, which is why the achievement gap between low income students and their wealthier peers is unacceptable and must be closed.
-It’s in our community’s best interest to seek equity in access to excellent teachers and leaders, funding, and additional supports for student learning.
- Evidence shows that providing foundational concepts early in a child’s life is critical to future learning. Building a strong base early decreases the need for costly and challenging remediation over time.

How we work to achieve this:
✓ We concentrate our resources on students who need them the most – typically students who are of color and/or low-income.
✓ When investing in system-improvement, we ensure considerations are made with an equity lens. We believe that strong systems are those that meet the needs of all children.
✓ We prefer structural improvement that promotes prevention, rather than more resources towards repair.

LEADERSHIP IS CRITICAL - Leaders can make or break an organization, system, school, or classroom.
- School leaders are vital to setting high expectations and fostering a team of educators who can meet them.
- For their students to succeed, all educators – from classroom teachers to district leaders – benefit from a comprehensive human development strategy that includes coaching, access to reliable progress data, continual reflection, and opportunities to grow professionally.
- As professionals responsible for the vital goal of student learning, teachers and leaders should be both supported and held accountable for their impact on student achievement.

How we work to achieve this:
✓ We seek partnership opportunities that take into account the interrelated parts of a human capital system.
✓ We consider strongly the effectiveness and track record of the leadership team, from the executive staff to the board.
✓ We evaluate leadership’s commitment and expect evidence of support before investing.

PROGRESS MATTERS - Measurement and evidence are critical to know if progress is being made – with organizations, interventions, and ultimately, students.
- Curriculum and instructional interventions should be evidence based and research informed.
- Great schools and districts should have autonomy to innovate and make decisions in the best interest of students. With autonomy comes accountability for results for students.
- Academic proficiency is one of the most important goals for all students, but academic growth is a useful yardstick for progress.

How we work to achieve this:
✓ In an effort to achieve the strongest outcomes, we prioritize investments that incorporate evidence-based strategies.
✓ We are interested in supporting partners that measure their performance, through both qualitative and quantitative metrics, and continually use this information to assess their program effectiveness and improve outcomes.
✓ We use evaluation to assess program effectiveness and organizational learning rather than solely compliance.

STRONGER TOGETHER - We strive to be ever-focused on what’s best for students and prioritize transparency, accountability, continuous learning, and willingness to partner.
- Publicly supported and accessible schools are the bedrock of our country. Public dollars must come with transparency and accountability.
- No one organization has the answer. Working in partnership and sharing best practices will produce the best results.

How we work to achieve this:
✓ One of the strongest roles that we aim to play, in addition to funding, is to be a connector and advocate for positive and lasting change.
✓ We seek to model the kind of willingness to partner, continuous learning, and performance accountability that we expect from our grantee organizations.
✓ To be as grounded as possible in the realities of working with students, we take a dual approach, seeking opportunities for systemic improvement while also partnering with those making a direct impact on the students every day.