The Hunt Institute receives $100,000 from John M. Belk Endowment to Support a Bipartisan Dialogue in North Carolina

July 12, 2018

DURHAM N.C.—The Hunt Institute has received a $100,000 grant from the John M. Belk Endowment to support fostering a bipartisan dialogue on the North Carolina education continuum. The support from the John M. Belk Endowment will also enable the Hunt Institute to provide research and communications support to myFutureNC, its members, commissioners, and staff. This support is the first grant the Hunt Institute has received from the John M. Belk Endowment.


With the Endowment’s support and partnership, the Hunt Institute will work with North Carolina leaders to champion for public education through sustainable reforms. The Institute will continue to support North Carolina political leaders, policy influencers, and implementers to realize a vision of increasing opportunities for all children grounded in excellent education.

“With the support of the John M. Belk Endowment, the Hunt Institute is equipped to build on its work in North Carolina,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of the Hunt Institute. “We are excited to continue working with the state’s leaders to prioritize the development of a comprehensive and sustainable education continuum.”

In 2017, just 46% of North Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 64 had a postsecondary degree, credential, or high-quality certificate. This number stands in stark contrast to the projection that by 2020 67% of jobs in the state will require postsecondary education. Even more troubling, employers increasingly report an inability to hire employees with the skills they need. This skills gap has the potential to negatively impact the state’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality jobs.

Current educational attainment rates in North Carolina result in low wages and limited advancement opportunity for a large portion of our citizenry—especially those in our rural communities and those coming from low-income backgrounds. And while North Carolina has many high-quality education offerings, what our state lacks is a strategic effort to create cohesion across education programming that will increase the educational attainment of our citizens.

Barriers to a more cohesive continuum vary greatly, ranging from siloed systems and competition for limited resources to capacity among policymakers at the legislative and executive level. In order for North Carolina to lead on education, from birth to the workforce, the state needs to reach a saturation point in both policy knowledge and political will among current policymakers and future leaders on both sides of the aisle and to ensure sustainability beyond political terms.

“This investment in the Hunt Institute is a statement of our commitment to continuing to strengthen the education-to-workforce continuum for all North Carolinians,” said MC Belk Pilon, Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “By building partnerships and supporting the education of our state’s policymakers, we can collaborate more effectively to increase educational attainment in North Carolina.”

The Hunt Institute is a recognized leader in the movement to transform American public education. The Institute works at the intersection of education policy and politics where they empower state leaders to drive sustainable reform and become audacious champions for public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network, the Institute connects leaders with the best strategies to develop and implement policies and programs that improve public education. They are unapologetic about the importance of equity—in educational access, quality, and opportunity—and it is at the core of the work they do.


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 of 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

The Hunt Institute: Established in 2001 and 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 it was established 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. To learn more, visit

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