John M. Belk Endowment Awards $10 Million to College Advising Corps

John M. Belk Endowment Awards $10 Million to College Advising Corps

The Charlotte-based John M. Belk Endowment has announced a $10 million gift to College Advising Corps to help increase access to higher education for low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students in North Carolina.

The gift will support existing partnerships with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and Davidson College, which together placed 106 advisers in 127 high schools serving more than 38,000 students across the state during the 2016-17 academic year. The three-year initiative will build on the endowment's initial $10 million investment in the 2014 College Advising Corps, whose advisors help students search for college and career opportunities, complete applications for admission and financial aid, and support their successful transition from high school to a postsecondary degree or credentialing program.

To help North Carolina meet its evolving workforce needs, the Belk Endowment recently launched an effort to increase the proportion of North Carolinians with degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. "By investing in College Advising Corps, we hope to help North Carolina students overcome the barriers of access and affordability, empowering them to reach their own potential in postsecondary education," said Mary Claudia "MC" Belk Pilon, board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. "This positive change to the trajectory of their lives will enable students to access better opportunities and in turn create a more educated North Carolina workforce."

"There are far too many talented young people who are college ready, but do not apply to college because they lack the financial resources or understanding of how to access higher education," said UNC System president Margaret Spellings. "This funding support will break through those barriers to help underserved students identify higher education opportunities that fit them best. More importantly, we know that greater higher education access can serve as a catalyst for positive change for students as well as communities across our great state."