Dynamic Cohort of Young Leaders Selected for New Social Impact Fellowship

September 15, 2020

Cary, NC. – The John M. Belk Endowment and The Hunt Institute are pleased to announce the first cohort of the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship. Building on the success of the John M. Belk Scholarship program, the Fellowship offers a 10-month internship to currently enrolled college students who demonstrate alignment with the mission of the John M. Belk Endowment, an interest in educational equity, and a history of working in service of others. The selection process was highly competitive, with just 14 Fellows selected from over 250 applicants. With the specific goal of developing future social impact leaders, Fellows will be placed with organizations at the forefront of college access, completion, and workforce relevance in North Carolina.

“At the John M. Belk Endowment, we have long held a central belief that guides our work – an understanding that talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “In the individuals selected in this first cohort, we see the future – one that is more inclusive, kind, capable, reflective, and representative of what our society should be.”

Throughout the Fellowship experience, Impact Fellows will gain exposure to a wide array of nonprofit functional areas, including finance and operations, policy and research, philanthropy and grantmaking, communications and marketing, and program management. Combined with an internal speaker and workshop series, Fellows will also be exposed to a variety of leaders, both elected and appointed, as well as engage in rich professional development opportunities via workshops led by Ramon De Jesus, The Hunt Institute’s Director of Equity Initiatives.

“The John M. Belk Impact Fellowship honors the legacy of my friend, John M. Belk, and combines two of our shared passions – equitable opportunities and progress for the great state of North Carolina, which I have dedicated my life’s work to” said Governor Jim Hunt. “I look forward to interacting with the Fellows to learn more about what drives them and supporting them in achieving their goals.”

The first cohort of Impact Fellows brings with them a richness of experience and perspective, embodying diversity of class, gender, sexuality, race, and cultural heritage. They represent all regions of North Carolina, attend both public and private postsecondary institutions, and are interested in the myriad ways education intersects with a variety of equity issues. It is the hope of the John M. Belk Endowment and The Hunt Institute that these initial forays into educational equity will embolden and empower Fellows towards becoming the next generation of education leaders in service of the children and families of North Carolina.

“Working alongside the John M. Belk Endowment in the creation of and recruiting for this program has already proven to be rewarding,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “The Fellows are an incredible group of scholars, and I am excited to track their accomplishments throughout these next 10 months, and throughout their careers.”

The 2020 cohort of the John M. Belk Impact Fellowship is:

Elizabeth Bell – M.A. in Elementary Education – Wake Forest University

Kayela Buffaloe – M.Ed. in College Counseling and Student Development – North Carolina State University

Jeremy Carballo Pinda – Public Policy and Political Science – Duke University

Melanie Godinez Sedillo – Public Policy and Political Science – UNC Chapel Hill

Thomas Gomes – Master of Public Administration – UNC Wilmington

Ruth Kalume – International Business and Finance – UNC Greensboro

Thida Kim – Business Administration – Elon University

Grey Martineau – Sociology – UNC Charlotte

Phoebe Pruneda – Social Work – UNC Charlotte

Kaidyn Radford – Communication Studies and Women and Gender Studies – UNC Chapel Hill

Terrence Rollins – Economics and Political Science – UNC Greensboro

Syrena Travis – Master of Public Administration – UNC Chapel Hill

Julia Whitfield – M.A. in Psychology – UNC Charlotte

Rezilience Williamson – Cultural Anthropology – Duke University


About The John M. Belk Endowment

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. He created the John M. Belk Endowment in 1995 to fund a national merit scholarship program for his beloved alma mater, Davidson College. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment staff and board continue to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit http://jmbendowment.org.

About The Hunt Institute

An affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, The Hunt Institute is a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network since its establishment in 2001, The Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership, and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success. For more information, please visit: http://www.hunt-institute.org/

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