About Us

Annual Report





A stronger North Carolina where all residents have access to educational pathways
that help them realize their career goals aligned with our state’s workforce needs.

What does this mean?
A stronger North Carolina – systemic changes that will help North Carolina recover from dramatic economic dislocations and compete in the new economy

Educational pathways – the routes a student can take from high school graduation to achieve a market-relevant postsecondary credential or degree

Career goals – long-term, family-supporting employment and economic mobility

Our state’s workforce needs – opportunities within the companies and industries that drive North Carolina’s 21st-century growth


Transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs.

What does this mean?
“The John M. Belk Endowment is a relationship organization. They don’t just write a check. They stay involved as a resource and sounding board, encouraging us to ask questions, reflect on the work we’ve done, and never lose sight of the ultimate goal – improving opportunities for North Carolina’s students.”

– Nicole Hurd, PhD, Founder and CEO, College Advising Corps

“The John M. Belk Endowment recognizes that North Carolina’s current systems don’t work for all students, especially the most vulnerable. They also appreciate that it will take hard work and deep commitment to transform today’s post-high-school pathways into tomorrow’s opportunities.”

– Dan Gerlach, President, Golden Leaf Foundation

Our History

The John M. Belk Endowment was founded in 1995 with a laser vision focused on North Carolina’s postsecondary educational needs and their alignment to our state’s workforce.  Our founder, John Montgomery Belk, drawing on his distinctive retail business career and his public service as Charlotte’s four-term mayor, was deliberate in his decision to ensure the Endowment’s organizational flexibility to adapt to change with the world around us.

The Endowment continues to partner with and advocate for the John Montgomery Belk Scholarship at Davidson College, which was established by our founder in 1995.  Since 2012, we have awarded grants of more than $53 million, primarily within North Carolina’s postsecondary educational sector. 

The Endowment aspires to create a stronger North Carolina by establishing three pillars of postsecondary success: ACCESS to and enrollment in postsecondary education for all North Carolina students; COMPLETION of a credential and/or college degree; and WORKFORCE RELEVANCE, that aligns the educational pipeline to relevant needs of employers, resulting in economically stronger communities throughout the state. 

Now led by John’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the JMBE staff and board continue to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further John’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality.




Board of Directors

  • MC Belk Pilon

    Board Chair

  • Claudia Watkins Belk

    Board Member

  • Geaorge S. Dewey, IV

    Board Member

  • Virginia M. Esposito

    Board Member

  • Brian T. Marley

    Board Member


  • Kristy Teskey

    Executive Director

  • Jeff Alligood

    Finance and Operations Director

  • Cynthia Liston

    Program Officer

  • Jennifer Bihn

    Grants Manager

  • Usoon Woo

    Executive Assistant

  • Carolyn Pollack

    Project Manager