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News Release

John M. Belk Endowment Grants $5.5 Million to Say Yes Guilford

GREENSBORO, NC (August 24, 2016) – The John M. Belk Endowment, a private family foundation committed to building a stronger North Carolina through providing postsecondary access to children, has granted $5.5 million to Say Yes Guilford. The gift was announced during the Greensboro Partnership’s annual State of Our Community Luncheon.

The $5.5 million from the John M. Belk Endowment includes an immediate $3 million disbursement for the Say Yes Guilford scholarship and $500,000 to fund postsecondary access and completion programs. The remaining $2 million is broken into challenge grants, with $1 million paid to Say Yes Guilford after it has reached $50 million in total fundraising, and another $1 million after $60 million is reached.

“The Say Yes scholarship is truly the fulfillment of hope for many of our local students,” says Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board Chair Chuck Cornelio, who made the announcement during the State of Our Community event. “Say Yes represents a promise, that through our schools, a system of wraparound services and supports, and generous donations from organizations like the John M. Belk Endowment, we can and will see our students to and through college. We encourage others to take on the challenge issued today as we aim to reach our fundraising goals.”

According to the John M. Belk Endowment, its vision is to create a stronger North Carolina by developing a more viable workforce and by reimagining the postsecondary education system. The Endowment began funding grant requests in 2014-15 by focusing on access to higher education, postsecondary degree completion and workforce relevance.

“Postsecondary education for today’s students is the key to North Carolina’s economic future,” says Executive Director of the John M. Belk Endowment Kristy Teskey. “We are investing in Say Yes because this groundbreaking community collaboration benefits all Guilford County Schools students, ensuring they have access to postsecondary opportunities through to completion. This initiative is a model for our state, and we are pleased to be a partner in building this critical infrastructure.”

The John M. Belk Endowment donation brings the total of funds raised and committed for Say Yes Guilford to approximately $41 million. The funds will go to support scholarships and program implementation that provide services and support to students and families with a goal of increasing postsecondary education completion. Ongoing fundraising efforts are aimed at securing an endowment of $70 million or more to sustain the Say Yes Guilford program in the future.

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About Say Yes Guilford
Say Yes to Education Guilford was formally announced on September 17, 2015. Guilford County vied with more than two dozen mid-sized cities and counties throughout the United States to become the next community partner for Say Yes to Education, Inc., a national nonprofit based in New York. Say Yes to Education Guilford seeks to help Guilford County Schools system students get the support they need to graduate from high school and be ready for post-secondary success. This support starts with the youngest learners and continues until students graduate from college or postsecondary programs. In addition, the program provides “last-dollar” tuition and other postsecondary scholarships to eligible Guilford County Schools graduates so they can afford to complete college or a postsecondary certificate. For more information, visit www.SayYesGuilford.org.

About Say Yes National
Founded in 1987, Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit that partners with communities around the goals of every public school student not only graduating high school – but doing so prepared for a college or other postsecondary education, and with access to resources to make that education affordable. At the heart of Say Yes is a powerful incentive for families and communities: the prospect of a college scholarship, whether to an in-state public institution or one of the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes National Higher Education Compact. Say Yes and its partners ensure that students have the support outside the classroom – tutoring; after-school and summer programs; medical care; counseling and legal help – to clear the path to academic achievement. Say Yes works with its community partners to bring together every local stakeholder – city and county government; the school district; parents; teachers; businesses; unions; philanthropic and faith-based organizations; colleges and universities – and arms that coalition with the tools to boost postsecondary participation and success. Those systems and structures enable the work of the local Say Yes partnership to go to scale and be sustained through predictable transitions in leadership, and historically unpredictable funding from state and local sources. The organization’s support services are available to nearly 140,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Most are in communitywide chapters in Syracuse (a pilot that began in 2008) and Buffalo (2012), as well as Guilford County (Greensboro-High Point), North Carolina (2015). Say Yes, which has already begun the search for its fourth community chapter, has smaller chapters in Harlem in New York City and Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.SayYestoEducation.org.

About The John M. Belk Endowment
The John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to creating a stronger North Carolina by improving access to postsecondary education for all students, increasing the number of students who complete postsecondary degrees and credentials, and ensuring that graduates can secure lifelong, family-sustaining employment. Founded in 1995 by John M. Belk and headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Endowment funds and partners with organizations that are leading the way for systemic change to better align education with workforce needs in a global economy through collaboration with educators, policymakers, employers and communities. For more information, please visit www.jmbendowment.org.

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Are you inspired by the goals and approach of Say Yes Guilford? We invite you to reach out to learn more about how you can get involved.