Our History


Since 1928, The Belk Foundation has enriched communities throughout the South through generous financial support of various charitable, religious, educational and other nonprofit organizations. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Belk Foundation and its rich philanthropic heritage are deeply rooted in the Christian values and legacy of community stewardship begun by brothers William Henry Belk and Dr. John Montgomery Belk, founders of the Belk department store organization.

The John M. Belk Memorial Fund was created by the Belk stores in 1928 following the death of Dr. Belk. The fund primarily supported the building and remodeling of Presbyterian churches across the South; however, other worthy causes were also supported, particularly health and education endeavors.

Soon after William Henry Belk's death in 1952, his heirs combined the charitable portion of his estate with the John M. Belk Memorial Fund to form The Belk Foundation. Today, The Belk Foundation continues to operate as a family foundation that seeks inspiration in the vision of its founders. Accordingly, the foundation endeavors to express the Belk family's values through its charitable investments.

William Henry Belk treated his employees and partners like family, he invested and deeply believed in the people he worked with. He wasn't just satisfied to make money, he wanted to make the communities where he did business better. Mr. Belk was a great citizen of the South.

— Frank Matthews, long-time Belk executive and former Belk Foundation board member

Historically, Belk, Inc. and its predecessor department store companies have made annual contributions to The Belk Foundation in support of its charitable giving. The Belk Foundation and Belk, Inc. are separate entities, but are both rooted in the same family history of care for the people of the South.

In January 2010, the Board of Directors of The Belk Foundation adopted a new mission statement that placed a stronger focus on educational programs and initiatives. In order to increase the impact of its charitable investments, the Foundation invests solely in programs that fall within their two areas of focus: K-3 achievement and excellent teachers and leaders.