Formed in 2013, The Belk Foundation Next Generation Advisory Board (Next Gen) is comprised of 4th generation Belk family members, aged 22 - 40. To learn more about the Foundation’s mission, the Next Gen first began making grants directly to Title 1 elementary schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including Berryhill School’s summer COOL program and Montclaire Elementary’s book vending machine.
In 2020, the Next Gen decided to shift their grantmaking program to learn more about non-profit lifecycles and capacity building. Now in their third year of capacity building grantmaking, the Next Gen has learned about how nonprofits provide critical support to public school students, educators and families in Charlotte and across North Carolina.
MORE ABOUT THE BELK FOUNDATION NEXT GEN
The Next Gen shifted their grantmaking process to focus on capacity building grants to existing Belk Foundation grantee partners, as a way to provide additional funding support beyond core funding. Interactions with the partners has allowed a deeper understanding of the Foundation’s strategic issues of third grade reading proficiency and equitable access to effective teachers. Each Spring the Next Gen dedicates $30,000 to capacity building grantmaking.
“Providing capacity building grants allows our Next Gen members to discern the different ways an organization can improve their operations in order to have a positive impact on students and their community,” said former Next Gen Grants Chair Anna Elliott. “From strengthening communications, updating technology, and investing in leadership, we gained a deeper understanding of the many factors that contribute to a non-profit’s success and growth for the future.”
In 2020, three organizations received capacity building grants. Augustine Literacy Project expanded their strategic communications planning at a time when it was most needed as schools were shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ourBRIDGE for Kids received funding for trauma-informed training to better serve their students from refugee and immigrant populations at their after-school program. Profound Gentlemen upgraded and integrated their financial software.
Building upon their experience in their first year of capacity building grantmaking, in 2021, the Next Gen awarded grants to EducationNC and UrbanPromise Charlotte. EdNC received funding for an online analytics tool to help them understand their online audience in order to ensure equity and diversity of site users, and UrbanPromise built a custom database that tracks their students’ 20-year journey with the organization.
In this third year and beyond the Next Gen look forward to continuing support for Belk Foundation grantees to increase their organizational capacity and deliver critical programming. In addition, they will continue to learn from and alongside grantee partners working toward educational equity.